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What effect does social media have on our mental health?

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    A Harvard study recently found that photos which are posted using filters which change photos to blue, grey or dark in colour could be a clue into whether someone is struggling with depression. Another study by two German universities found Facebook could trigger feelings of envy and jealously in people - with holiday photo's being the worst for this.

    With the rise of social media, has come the rise the 'selfie' with people with people striving for the perfect picture of themselves - sometimes to unhealthy levels. Critics have noted that it's very rare to see images of the times we're not feeling too good mentally and that there's a pressure to show how good our lives are - even if they're not.

    Others have pointed out though that the rise of social media has given people a platform to talk more openly about mental health and a space in which they feel free to talk about the things they're experiencing - something which can only be good for their wellbeing. Things such as 'hashtags' on both Twitter and Instagram have also meant mental health awareness has had the potential to reach a bigger audience.

    What effect do you think social media has had on people's mental health? Is it a positive or negative thing? Have you ever felt under pressure to just show the good things happening in your life?

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    I can understand why social media can have a negative impact on some people's mental health and especially, their perceptions of themselves.

    I've noticed it took a negative toll on me from time to time. On TSR, I feel like I can be truly me. If I am having a day day, I can open up to you all and if I am having a good day or something good happens, I want to tell you all but on FB since its 'real life' friends and family that I see often, I feel the need to hide a lot of the bad things because I don't want them asking questions or making assumptions or maybe asking my family about it. I often feel like a lot of the time, they can be more judging than friends you have online like with TSR. I have opened up about my mental health on FB as I do believe talking about it helps to lessen the stigma and even if I can just educate one person on my page, my job is done but I feel like the support there can be somewhat shallow as if I did post how bad I was feeling one day, people wouldn't be that supportive. They'd more likely be making statuses saying or at least thinking "She should be keeping that to herself", "What a drama queen", "Folk have it worse than you" etc but I don't feel that so much on a forum.

    Even when I posted good things such as booking my wedding last week, I still felt pressure to show the happiness I felt and not the crippling anxiety I was having over the thought of it all. I wasn't nervous about getting married or being with my partner forever but I was overwhelmed with little things regarding it such as my gran not being over the moon about it, me and my partner's parents not being close and having to get more friendly with them before the wedding, the actual cost of it all, would my mental health be better on the day or would I take a panic attack during the ceremony?, will I have to lose weight to look good in my dress etc but I couldn't show any of those worries, some of which are natural, I had to just show the mask of "omg yes everything is grand! I don't have anything going on in the background in my life atm, just my wedding!"

    When it comes to selfies, I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I do get a bit bitter when I see really attractive girls in selfies and I think "why can't I have hair like them?", "why can't I be as thin as them?" and when you suffer from BDD like I do, sometimes social media is your worst enemy. Comparing myself to how people look hasn't got to me as much as the "I must maintain a happy persona at all times!" problem though.

    I do sometimes think I should quit social media for a little while, even TSR sometimes but I've tried and failed many times in the past. I would say there are more positives than negatives for social media, at least to me but you have to know when to take a step back from it and what you share and who you share it with. I also agree with many of the MH awareness hashtags on Twitter, a lot of them have been quite informative and a good way for fellow sufferers to communicate with each other. When I first started to post about MH on FB, I quickly realised most people didn't give a hoot and were just nosy. I had a good clear out and now only have about 50 friends who are mainly me and my partner's family plus some friends.

    I find it can be really mixed. On the one hand finding people struggling with similar things to me and online support groups have changed my life- I probably wouldn't be here without them. As Spock's Socks said, on TSR I can be completely me, or whoever else I want to be. As someone who struggled a lot with communication and related things in real life this makes a huge difference.

    On the other hand, and one most people can probably relate to is the social pressures around social media. You see everyone you've ever known having the apparently perfect life as it's only positive things they post on there. It can be a huge platform for bullying. One wrong move to the wrong person or in public and it can get you in huge trouble, in a lot of ways.

    So in general, if I limit where I look I'd say social media is more good than bad for my mental health. There are days though when it's not at all, and I can easily see how things can go really badly wrong for people and have a huge negative impact on them.

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    You know what, I could go on and on about the negative affects of media representation of mental health or unrealistic standards being shown, but i'm going to go with something different here. Something possitive :O
    Dr Kevin Casey is a character in Scrubs. He made me realise I had OCD, because he has OCD and it was actually well represented- not just "I clean loads". I would have never even thought I could have OCD until I saw that. Also, he was still super successfull which is cool cos it shows you can still acchieve things if you have mh problems.
    Honestly Scrubs tends to represent all illnesses well as far as I know so I would really suggest giving it a watch. It's a good mix between comedy and real issues.

    On the flip side, since I can't just be possitive, there is a show called Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners which heavily implies the people in it have OCD... They do not. It just enforces the stereotype of OCD sufferers just being germathobes.

    Anyho, I guess I should make a point to all this so here goes... There is a lot of bad stuff out there in media, but media itself is not the enemy. It's just a tool and it can be used in really amazing ways too. From News coverage of important issues, to Youtubers discussing their experiences. Media has helped me an aweful lot throughout my life, but it has also caused a fair few issues or annoyances too. I think people need to stop trying to censor media so much and instead try to add to it in a possitive light. If there is a good alternative I believe people will latch onto it and by doing so push the negative away- like ignoring bullys so they get bored I guess.

    This is a realy interesting topic btw, thanks for bringing it up. I'm sure people will have loads of interesting perspectives to bring to it

    I've seen the good and bad.

    At the moment, I'm observing extreme narcissism, particularly with instagram.

    It can be a bit of both.
    I know that instagram has caused many young girls to have eating disorders and self esteem problems.

    Young ladies are looking through instagram pictures that have been thoroughly edited and may have had surgery and doing things to achieve unrealistic body goals. They develop this mindset that they have to look a certain way. You can also get cyber bullied which causes depression.
    On the other hand, it could be positive. You could develop a whole new mind set and meet new people that have similar interests thus making you happier

    Ugh, this guy explains perfectly how this hashtag culture operates.


    As for Facebook, it's pretty much a game of who-has-the-better-life. I use it for events...that's pretty much it. I haven't changed my profile picture in 3 years, and I have under 50 friends.

    Instagram...Oh boy. A platform where the most talentless, wannabe on the face of the earth can get money and recognition.

    Snapchat...when used without D pics, it at least allows you to make an ugly face and not give a hoot.

    I do think this excessive filter thing needs to die down a bit. There was a missing girl on the news the other week, and I thought...how are we supposed to recognise her with all that crap on her head, her nose streamlined, and her face a different shape than it was? It's even creeping onto serious issues like that.

    Forums, not social media, have given way for people to talk about problems and controversial issues candidly - the one's society restricts in your every day face-to-face interactions.

    The negatives of social media outweigh the positives.

    I hate social media. I use facebook but I don't know why I go on there. All my "friends" (51 of them) post awesome photos of their vacations, photos with each other, and friendly messages on each other's walls. I think facebook can be damaging to a lot of young people's mental health - for instance, for me I see all these friendly messages on walls and photos of people being happy together and compare to my profile tbh it makes me want to cry/I actually do a lot of the time. I think there's a lot of pressure to make other people think you have a great life so anyone who is vulnerable sees what these people do and feels like crap that that's not their life.

    I still haven't got over the fact that one morning I logged into facebook to see my school's 10 year reunion pictures. All the comments saying how great it was to see "everyone" again... "everyone". Not a single person informed me it was being held.
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