Facebook can be used to promote mental health

Nov 29 2016 - 9:53pm

It is possible for Facebook users to avoid feeling depressed and instead use the site to promote mental health.

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Positive thoughts about social media

There have been observations that the nature of some interactions on Facebook leads to depression. However, it is possible to instead use Facebook to nurture mental health.

Lancaster University reports that if you compare yourself to other people on Facebook this is more likely to lead into depressed feelings than when offline social comparisons are made. David Baker and Dr Guillermo Perez Algorta of Lancaster University investigated this association between social networking and depression.

There are about 1.8 billion people using social networking sites worldwide

In consideration that there are about 1.8 billion people using social networking sites worldwide and with greater than 1 billion active Facebook users the effects of social networking on mental health are important. In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics defined “Facebook depression” as being a “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.”

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The association between social networking and depression seems to often be due to the realization that rumination or overthinking can result from comparing yourself with other people. It has been possible to predict depression from increased rumination due to negative comparisons with other people on Facebook. Very frequent Facebook posting was also observed to be associated with depression due to rumination.

It is possible to use Facebook to improve social support and nurture mental health

Although the possibility of setting off depression appears possible due to negative interactions on Facebook it is nevertheless possible to turn this all around and instead use Facebook to improve social support and nurture mental health. Positive online relationships would seem to help in this respect. There are also many professionals who offer online positive oriented mental health counseling who are on Facebook.

This study has been published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. There has been an increasing awareness of the possible impact of online social networking on well-being. An awareness of the potential to generate both negative and positive impacts on mental health from social networking should prompt further considerations on how to better focus on the positive potential of social networking on mental health.

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