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The social side of mental health

By Julianna Bello Da Costa

In an age where social media is at the centre of what we do, the effects are detrimental on young people’s mental state

The correlation between the use of social media and the rise in mental health problems is becoming ever-more proven in studies. A recent 2017 UK survey found that Instagram is the worst social media platform when examining the impacts on mental health.

Furthermore, the levels of anxiety and depression have increased by 70% over the past 25 years. With more and more young people using social media, the crippling effect on an individual’s mental state seems inevitable.

The harmful effects of Instagram and Snapchat are reinforced each day; are the constant use of filters harming our perceptions of beauty and making us question our own image? Admittedly, I too fall victim to this; I enjoy browsing those filters as much as the next person. But shouldn’t we be confronting the issue at hand here?

Filters are dangerous for our mental health. They do not promote an accurate representation of people, and instead glamourise what is deemed “perfect”. Whilst these apps stimulate moments of fun, they are ultimately a powerful factor in the growth of mental health issues.

Going to school during social media’s peak meant being surrounded by this virtual world. Being bullied for the size of my nose was difficult and I would often hide myself behind filters to feel validated. I became a victim of social media and as a result would often question my own appearance and whether I was good enough.

Despite being in a much better place now, the temptation is ever more present with apps releasing new filters every day. After using a filter to take a selfie, I tend to feel quite negative about myself and therefore feel less confident. The comparisons you make between your natural and edited self are detrimental to your wellbeing; it becomes an unhealthy obsession.

Are there enough measures in place to tackle the negative impact created by social media on mental health? Only time will tell. For now, Well@Brunel, a service ran by Brunel students and staff at the Student Services, aims to improve the wellbeing of students and staff, by offering activities and events for both staff and students.

More information about Well@Brunel can be found: here.

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