Updated: Apr 27, 2021
As a kid too enthusiastic about mastering the subject and looking forward to developing a future in the field of Psychology I learned much more about the importance and lack of awareness regarding mental health from the Internet and social media platforms than from my textbooks.
As the books introduce various concepts, statistics, ethics, disorders and theories in Psychology, the social media, on the other hand, walked me through the lone paths of mental health. These paths still remain deserted for the sheer lack of knowledge and awareness in this field.
These platforms introduced me to the magnanimous dearth of people who are, with all their heart and soul, working to raise awareness and knowledge about the importance of staying mentally healthy. They opened my eyes to the prevailing stereotypes around mental well-being and how most people challenged the very existence of mental disorders. It also defenestrated the idea of taking therapy into account, let alone recovering from an illness. It is a straightforward logic, just as a heart attack doesn't stop you from visiting a doctor. Similarly, any problem that seems to be affecting you mentally shouldn't prevent you from seeing a doctor, who specifically deals with such challenges, either.
There are still a lot of people who continue to believe that mental health is itself a myth and that the myths surrounding mental health are a reality after all. Some of the most widespread mental health myths are (https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts):
It is impossible to prevent mental illness
Therapy is a waste of time. Why bother when I can pop in a pill.
Once a person develops a mental problem, it hardly ever gets better.
People with mental health problems are always violent
Children don't experience mental health problems.
Mental health professionals are continually trying to bust these myths and demystify such stigmas stuck like a leech to mental health.
Utilising the various social media platforms wisely is in itself a talent that is much less appreciated by a majority of people in the society. It is mostly thought of as a way of passing your time when you have nothing better to do. On the one hand, some posts may help you form an opinion or help you connect with like-minded people on the internet. On the other hand, they may be informative posts and merely an enlightening read. To follow and connect with peers, professionals and educators in this field striving to bust myths and normalise holding dialogues about one's mental health, it is quite a task that genuinely requires excellent scrutiny.
The outbreak of the pandemic has all the more added to this role of social media in raising awareness about mental health. As the epidemic not only led to contracting a horrific infectious disease but also has resulted in a lot of people suffering from significant mental health issues. Organisations working in this field have taken to these social media platforms to express the need for more conversations on mental health-related topics and at the same time for better reach and support. They try every way possible to connect with people suffering from mental problems and lending a helping hand for their quick recovery. They are working their minds off to come up with ideas so that mental health services are more accessible and approachable to all. Programs/workshops involving experts that talk about the least discussed topics like suicide, depression, coping mechanisms, stress, therapies, etc. are also being conducted by numerous professionals or students of psychology.
Although many of us may disagree on this and I shall not leave this article without acknowledging the other side of the coin. Where, on the one hand, social media can be treated as a tool for raising awareness, on the other hand, it can often be the very cause of anxiety problems and major complexity issues. But that is only when we are using these platforms to compare ourselves and our lives with others. As long as the media is used to voice one's opinions, learn more about others' views, hear more professionals speak on sensitive topics, read posts full of information and content, social media can barely be the cause for harm.