An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate
Some studies now indicate the exposure to social media can harm a users peace of mind and good mental and emotional health.
I agree and disagree.
Used properly Facebook can be a powerful tonic. It can help a person stay engaged in the world during those times it is hard to get oneself out and about.
Facebook friends properly gleaned can be a source of great company, support, encouragement, entertainment, advice, and information.
Properly gleaned Facebook friends are key. Those that are negative and news that one finds troubling need to be avoided. This can be done via un-friending and blocking their feed. This insulates your psyche from harm.
As a person with serious mental illness, I often struggle with loneliness.
Over time I have allowed my real world support system to shrink dangerously small.
I am often embarrassed that my symptoms show. I am often hypersensitive to noise and crowds and avoid them. In doing so I miss out on party invitations, holiday celebrations, church gatherings, concerts, festivals, live sporting events, dinning out among friends and family, and all means of maintaining contact with flesh and blood supports. This ultimately results not only in isolation but a shrinking of one's real world human support system.
As time spent alone increases, the risk of chronic loneliness increases.
Therefore, efforts should be made to get out and about when possible. However, when not possible, social media applications like Facebook can be a life saver. Loneliness and serious mental illness are a deadly combination.
Via Facebook, I connect with helpful information, support, good and positive people making myself less lonely, more comfortable, and safer from self-harm.
It can be a delicate balance. Negative people, news, and such needs to be avoided. And social media is only a band-aid measure. One needs to make every effort to reconnect with the real world of supports.
When symptoms become more muted and stress better handled, it is vital to get back out there in the real world.
In the meantime, Facebook can help. As can the practice of inviting folks over for a visit, welcoming folks to check in with you each day, and making phone calls to friends, family, and resources like warm lines and crisis lines.
The battle towards recovery is often a long one prone to loneliness and isolation. And serious mental illness, isolation, and loneliness are a potentially lethal combination if left unaddressed.
Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.
© 2019 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA