It is time to acknowledge that Depression should not be a social media fad.
As much as one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. There is no doubt that it is becoming more common. Indeed, one in six people report anxiety and depression in any given week. Of course, as population increases and ages, this figure is likely to increase. But why? Interestingly, the rise of social media is at the end of such finger pointing. It’s vast audiences and various blogs have come to make a breed of role models who justify mental health problems as ‘cool.’
There’s no doubt about it, anxiety and depression are on the up. In the last 25 years, it has increased 70% amongst teenagers. This propagation amongst an age group is vast, and appears to turn in on itself in a rather vicious cycle. Feeling unable to talk to parents to avoid personal indictment, teens turn to social media in order to air their views, where it is more acceptable to talk about. On the one hand, this is great. A platform to air views unabated by peers and friends, encouraged by lessening of the stigma promoted by Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and the like.
But this is WHERE the problem lies. Sites such as Tumblr and Twitter are full of blogs and users who are frank in their problems, but carry an underlying persona of a certain air of higher intelligence, mystery, even sexual side to their issues. As the hits on the site increase, the more this age group are exposed to the implication that mental health is ‘in’, and therefore the cycle begins. This is a new problem. And as a sufferer of depression, something I am ashamed of doing a few times myself, particularly if drunk. These pages, blogs and sites are where mental health issues are seen to thrive. Everyone wants to be like their idols, right? And if your idol is falsifying the pretences of mental illness, then you can too.
The problem also lies with the generation above. The ‘stiff upper lip’ mantra of not talking about mental health is still used by Piers Morgan, who’s tweets can be just as damaging as the blogs. Artists such as Drake promote a certain ‘image’, a so-called ‘sad boy’ doctrine that justifies how either pretending you are depressed, or making mental health issues part of your image can damage a generation to the point that their rebellion becomes a complete antithesis. It’s also amazing how down you become about what other people are doing. Is it F.O.M.O? Is it not being content with yourself and your own life? To be honest it’s not that simple, but definitely phasing out social media, or certainly reducing your time spent on it can help.
What has been great about social media sites, however,is the platform for views to be aired unabated is that it has helped drop the stigmas and taboos of mental health. It can be discussed. What is deeply worrying, however, is the lack of people who listen and are willing to support. Social media has clouded dropping the stigma with creating an image and, worryingly, has provided a melting pot where no one seems to listen. I urge you, if you have something that is really worrying you and playing on your mind, tell someone close. Furthermore, if you THINK someone may have an underlying issue, please ask. You are exactly the kind of people this world needs.
Please do not suffer in silence, but do not be misled by the internet. Don’t be frightened to talk, but choose someone who you think will listen.
If you ARE struggling with a mental health problem, please see the provided links.