Media vs Mental Health?

Megan Hughes considers the influence of social media upon our experiences of mental health

Megan Hughes
5th March 2018

The issue of mental health is a very important and current topic of conversation. However, is it really necessary that the media, specifically social media, is glamourising the likes of anxiety and depression?

Statistically more and more teenagers are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and frankly it is quite scary how the rates of diagnosis are soaring. What is the cause for this? Could social media influencers be the answer?

Well-known bloggers such as Zoella and Tanya Burr are known to openly air their struggles with anxiety, both in the past and how it affects them now. Whilst it could be seen as quite admirable to share something so deeply personal, the way in which they seem to almost glorify mental health is questionable.

They say it is normal to have a mental disorder, and glorify it to the extent whereby their audiences wish to follow suit, in order to liken themselves to these ‘role models’ that they have been following. Thus, this notion of normalisation poses catastrophic consequences. This normality is being mistaken and wrongly educated as healthy and ‘cool’. This poses the question of whether it then leads to self-diagnosis. So, do teenagers think that it is in fact abnormal not to have anxiety and depression?

The way in which they glorify mental health is questionable

As a teenager, you are at one of the most vulnerable stages in your life, with many pressures put on the way you look, think and feel. It is a time when you are at your most vulnerable, and are easily influenced. Within the past few years this stage of vulnerability has clashed with the mass consumption of the internet and social media. It goes without saying that social media has had an astronomical effect on the generation of today, seeping into every aspect of life and culture as we know it.

So, is there a correlation between the alarming rates of mental health diagnosis in teenagers, and the unsettling world of social media influences?

For some bloggers and influencers to be so blasé about mental health, something so important, is utterly ignorant and exploitative of young people. Not only this, but it is also very demeaning to those with mental illness, in a way that can dismiss the severity of it. Instead genuine awareness needs to be raised through education, which would help enable the lessening of stigma and nonchalant attitudes.

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