Slowly we are beginning to see a change in the stigma directed towards metal illness. We are nowhere near where we should be, but slowly, we are making it there. Celebrities have spoken out about mental illness in ways that they never have before, and institutions such as school and churches are addressing mental illness and the seriousness of the issue.
In the newer and younger generations, we are seeing an alarming number of individuals that are addicted to their smartphones. Teens and tweens are constantly checking social media, texting, calling, and Facetime-ing friends. They are creating stories, posting content, and like-ing, retweeting, and comparing themselves to others.
Young girls have always been at risk for low self-esteem issues. They struggle with acne, relationships, hormones, weight, and appearance. When these ‘Instagram models,’ who are no older than 15 or 16, edit their photos and then post them for the world to see, young girls are setting unrealistic expectations for what they want to look like.
There are many apps that people can use to edit photos. The airbrush app tool can get rid of wrinkles, acne, scars, and other beauty marks. It makes a person’s skin appear almost fake and plastic, and free of any imperfections. No one’s face looks like this in reality, without the help of makeup or editing software.
Women and girls also often edit their teeth in photos. There is a ‘whitening’ tool on most editing apps that allows people to adjust the shade of their teeth, giving off the impression that they have perfect, pearly whites. This can lead to young girls feeling bad about themselves, for not fitting the cookie-cutter cold of what a ‘true’ girl is supposed to look like.
The worst social media platform is Instagram. On Instagram, people project the idea of what they want others to see, not what they are really like. There is a new saying that goes, “Phone eats first!” poking fun at the fact that people always take photos of their food to post on social media before actually eating it.
On Instagram, much of what you see is not reality. Instagram bots are accounts that are created to boost the visibility of a user’s account, and are often abused. People can buy unlimited followers, and then make money off of sponsorship. For a while, society had phased out of falling victim to pyramid schemes and false advertising, but Instagram has brought all that back.
Many users of Instagram are not aware of all of the lies, deceit, and trickery that goes on in the photos they are viewing. When an individual compares their own life or appearance to those of ‘insta-famous’ social media liaisons, they can become very depressed and possibly turn to dangerous substances as a coping method.
Millennial teens are at a higher risk for mental health issues than any previous generation. When they are unable to seek out help, they may use drugs as a way to escape this altered reality that a combination of different forms of social media has created. Drug addiction and mental health issues can be a deadly combination, especially in young people.
Many teens and tweens are afraid to speak out about depression, because they are afraid of being labeled, judged, and treated differently. They do not realize that the constant smartphone usage has caused them to develop mental health issues, and do not feel as though adults would understand.
In order to combat anxiety and depression, many people turn to alcohol, and quickly develop an addiction. They will turn to the bottle when feeling sad, lonely, or bad about their life and body. Alcohol is a way to separate the body and the mind for a short period of time, and forget about all of your troubles. While drinking in moderation and for celebratory reasons is okay, drinking to combat issues in the mind or body can end up making things much worse.
I have heard time and time again, that it isn’t alcoholism if you are young. I have heard people say that being an alcoholic doesn’t count if you are in college, or even high school. People think that if you drink heavily when you are younger, it won’t have such a devastating effect on your physical and emotional health. This is false.
Drinking when you are young can lead to a whole long list of dangerous life consequences. When a person brushes off a heavy drinking habit as just “being in college” the problem can escalate faster and sometimes too far to reverse. Young people are at a much higher risk for getting alcohol poisoning when drinking, because they do not have lots of experience and knowledge about how much is too much, too fast.
In order to create a more open space for those who have feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem due to social media, something needs to be done. We need to take the lies and the deceit out of social media, and show people who we really are. I hate it when I see someone in person that I have seen on Instagram, and they look nothing like their online persona. This contributes to the high rates of mental health issues, and low self-esteem.
Anxiety and depression
Thankfully, there are many treatment options for young people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. When it comes to mental health issues that arise from social media, a group therapy setting is a great place for young people to talk openly, and get insight on people’s lives. In group therapy, young men and women can talk about their fears and thoughts that come along with social media.