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How a Facebook 'Like,' 'Love' or 'Share' Could Impact Mental Health

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As a mental health professional, my approach to social media has always been cautious. It might be a novice psychologist or a cultural issue, but my feelings towards social media have taken a more flexible stance as I move forward in this digitally adept world.

I recently witnessed how a joint effort was successful in helping a person receive necessary medical attention due to their mental health condition. It was mind-blowing to personally witness the power of a Facebook “share” and the potential reach these simple practices have.

Another equally heartwarming example, was the outpouring support and love generated by Sinead O’Connor’s recent video, where she opens up about suicidal thoughts. I believe this was an evidence of the powerfully positive effects of social media.

While social media has received a lot of backlash by the mental health community — especially true with younger and more vulnerable populations — there might also be something quite compelling about social media and its uses to advance the mental health cause.

The mental health stigma is an issue that continues to prevail in society. When we look at high profile celebrities acknowledging their mental health difficulties — such as Selena GomezDemi LovatoSinead O’Connor and Kristen Bell — those experiencing a similar situation might feel a certain degree of relief. Relief in knowing there’s someone out there who has gone through the same thing they did.

These celebrities, with their glitz, glamour and seemingly perfect lives, are human first and foremost. When we — “simple mortals” — are able to humanize these celebrities, we often start practicing self-compassion almost instantaneously; an ability necessary to start practicing self-care.

There are countless websites out there dedicated to raise awareness of mental health (such as The Mighty), and how these companies use their social media to open up the conversation and start connecting with people, is doing wonders to the mental health community and the cause to finally end the stigma.

We hold in our hands powerful tools that, if used appropriately, can end up saving more than one life. In your social media life, I encourage you to give more likes, more loves, more shares. You never know who you might be helping in the process.

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Thinkstock photo via Blackzheep.

Originally published: August 11, 2017
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