Social media means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My daughter uses it to share pictures, my mom uses it to find recipes, and I use it to read up on the latest news. Regardless of how it’s used, social media impacts our mental health both positively and negatively.
In 2018 the Pew Research Center reported that “one-third of 13-17 year olds regularly posted their feelings on social media.” This is primarily true on TikTok where this age demographic makes up more than 60% of its users.
Dr. Courtney Tracy, therapist, and host of @truthdoctorshow uses her TikTok account @the.truth.doctor to break down mental health topics like depression, addiction and trauma. While she has a flourishing clinical practice, her greatest impact has been on this social media platform with 1.5 million followers. “I think that having mental health psychoeducation on social media is changing the game,” Tracy said. “I think that having this accessible and having it for free is going to create a better community, a better society, a better understanding of who we are as human beings and how we actually function so that we can lead the best life that we possibly can.”
Dr. Tracy offers suggestions on how to create a mentally healthy social media feed.
First, be intentional. Figure out how you want to use social media and then stick to that purpose.
Once you’ve decided how you plan to use social media, start unfollowing, blocking or muting accounts and creators that don’t align with your purpose.
Next, choose to keep your account private. This encourages being your authentic self online.
And don’t use social media as your only means of connecting with people. Prioritize spending time with people in real life having face to face conversations. If you find that your social media use is having a negative affect on your mental health, don’t wait to address it.
It’s time to take control of your social media use and not allow it to control you.