FACEBOOK’S MENTAL HEALTH BLOG POST: MY TAKE

We’ve known for years that social media — with Facebook being one of the most prominent platforms — can negatively effect mental health. You probably saw about a week ago that Facebook came out with a blog post about that topic.

In the post, the company acknowledges research asserting that technology can drive people apart and make them depressed. But it also claims such research may not be valid and doesn’t tell the whole story. Facebook, it insists, can improve mental health, too. Strong relationships are important for overall health, the bloggers point out correctly, and Facebook can strengthen those relationships.

The blog also points us toward research I hadn’t seen: A University of Michigan study found that how you interact with Facebook makes a difference for mood. Those who just read their feeds end up in worse moods than those who post or talk to friends.

So the company is making efforts to steer people toward actually interacting with their networks. They’re pushing posts from friends you’ve shown you care about to the top of your feed. They’re giving users the option to temporarily “snooze” content from friends they aren’t interested in. They’re giving people more control over how they interact with their exes on the site. And they’re working to connect users, especially suicidal people, with mental health resources.

I appreciate these changes, though I’m not sure I’ve noticed much of a difference. I still see a lot of click bait in my feed, even though they claim they’ve made friends’ posts more prominent. Curating your feed to hide posts from people who make you feel bad is a great thing — definitely do it. As for Facebook working harder to push mental health resources, I love it.

A more important change I’d like to see — but will probably never see — is a feature alerting users to how much time they’ve spent using Facebook and suggesting a break. There are so many more meaningful things we can do with our time, things that promote our mental wellbeing rather than detract from it. And while I agree that building strong social support systems is crucial, you have to weigh that against the depression that results from comparing your real life to the edited highlights of other people’s lives.

If you find yourself feeling down after spending time on social media, I suggest trying a break from it. Uninstall the apps from your phone for a week and see how it changes how you’re feeling. There are better ways to strengthen relationships.

I’ve said it before: Get outside. Read a book. Do something creative. Volunteer. So many of us need to find a better social media/life balance. Let’s pay more attention to how we’re feeling when we’re on social media and choose to spend our time doing things that make us happy.

You Might Also Enjoy...

YOUTH AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

Suicides among teens ages 15-19 are the highest they’ve been since 2000, says a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Here’s a snippet from an NBC analysis of the study: The new study found that in 2017, 6,241 teenagers and adult

HOW TO FALL ASLEEP QUICKLY

This is second in a two-part series about sleep. Click here to read part one. Last week I wrote about how poor sleep can negatively affect your mental health. If you’re thinking, “It’s not my fault, I just can’t fall asleep at night!” then try this metho

HOW POOR SLEEP AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

I can’t stress this enough: part of managing your mental health includes getting enough sleep. I’ve written about this here before: in my career I’ve seen how poor sleep can lead to suicidal thoughts, memory issues, even weight gain. According to an artic

SOME ADHD MEDS INCREASE RISK OF PSYCHOSIS

New evidence is emerging that some medications for ADHD put teens and young adults at risk for developing psychosis. According to this study of more than 200,000 people ages 13 to 25, one out of 660 people had an episode of psychosis in a few months afte

SUMMER BREAK WITH YOUR HIGH-NEEDS CHILD

As thrilled as kids are with summer break, it can be difficult on parents to muster the same enthusiasm. You’re all out of your routine and it can take time to get used to a new schedule, and get used to each other. If you have a child with developmental

THE NEED FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN SCHOOLS

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) makes a case for more mental health professionals–including nurses and social workers–in schools. From the report: School counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists are frequently