Mental Health Awareness Month

Posts Tagged mentalhealth

The Mental Impact On Our Virtual Lives

According to research, as of 2021, about 4.2 billion people utilize social media, roughly 58.4% of the global population. According to Merriam-Webster, social media is “a form of electronic communication where users can share videos, messages, and ideas with their curate community.” This encompasses platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube, and even Pinterest. As social media usage skyrockets, so do the rate of mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

In 2020 the National Alliance of Mental Illness released the impact on mental health:

  • 1 in 5 experience mental health 
  • 1 in 20 experience serious mental health illness   
  • One in15 suffered mental health issues and substance abuse
  • Over 12 million people experienced suicidal ideations 

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Social media allows us to curate the life we want virtually; between filters and editors, you can be whoever you want to be very quick. However, does the impact of trying to obtain a certain status on these platforms outweigh what it is doing to our minds? Studies have shown that Americans spend around 4 to 6 hours daily on their smartphones, with some experiencing phenomena such as Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Phantom Vibration Syndrome is when you believe your phone is vibrating. One study found that 89% of undergraduate students experienced phantom vibration and did not see it as concerning. Others, however, have been very transparent that they may have an unhealthy, even an addictive, relationship with their smartphone.

Another phenomenon is Social Media Anxiety Disorder, often referred to as FOMO, which is the constant need to check on your online friends and followers to ensure you are not missing out. Unfortunately, these individuals are also more likely to lie about how much time they spend using their phones and experience severe withdrawal symptoms when unable to use social media.

Individuals are also experiencing numerous forms of violence linked to social media usage. The Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of U.S. teens showed that one in six teenagers had experienced at least one of six different forms of abusive behavior online:

  • Name-calling (42%)
  • Spreading false rumors (32%)
  • Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)
  • Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)
  • Someone making physical threats (16%)
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)

There is also a correlation between body dysmorphia and social media in young adolescent girls, and some organizations are going as far as banning filters for their product promotions. As social media grows, so does our need to create checks and balances to have a healthy natural world life and an online presence. Below are some ways to protect your mental health from the downside of social media.

Tips on balancing social media usage:

  1. Implement downtime or screentime on your phone. This allows you not to pass a certain amount of time daily.
  2. Try a 30-day social media cleanse! Instead of checking your phone recenter on a new activity.
  3. Do not grab your phone for the first hour and last hour of the day.
  4. Unfollow accounts and people that are not good for your mind.
  5. Try automating your social media posts for your accounts to avoid logging in.
  6. Go outside! Nature and yoga can help to reconnect.
  7. Try to refrain from using your phone when hanging out with friends and family.
  8. Speak to your therapist if you feel you have an unhealthy relationship with social media.

Social media has its ups and downs, but it has proven influential when creating community and connecting across platforms. However, we have to keep in mind that social media can create moments of depression and anxiety, and in a time when you almost need to be interconnected, make time for yourself. 

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Speaking Your Mind at Your Appointment 

Started in the US in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization, Mental Health Awareness Month is observed during May. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness. In addition, in a survey done in 2021 by the American Psychological Association, there has been a rise in people seeking mental health care for diagnosis and anxiety. 

Social media has also allowed many organizations and therapists such as @therapyforblackgirls to create everyday content and tools for a wider community. As the individual needs grow for mental health resources, so does the need for physicians who value mental health within their practice.

One study surveyed doctors, and they found that even when depressive symptoms are reported, they were not always taken into consideration when giving care. Instead, doctors were more inclined to treat the physical concern instead of navigating how depression can cause chronic health issues within an individual. 

This can be frustrating, primarily when many offices utilize a mental health screening form before the appointment. Being honest on the document and not receiving follow-up can make patients feel they are being ignored. Even if the provider is listening to your concerns, many struggle with believing a patient’s pain. A 2017 study pointed out the rise in discrimination and gaslighting patients receive from disclosing a mental health illness to their provider. 

Another study found that 44% of adults had reported being discriminated against or dismissed by their physicians. Again, this looks like outwardly ignoring the issue, assuring it is “all in the head,” or even recommending institutionalizing someone for their concerns. 

For marginalized people of color, this discrimination and dismissal can be even more forceful since many do not have the recourses to get a documented diagnosis. Those who do are often judged and treated more as a threat than their white counterparts. We have seen this in our past articles centering on male athletes and neurological health and Black women and maternal mortality

Mental health and physical health are shared, and one does not outweigh the other or should be used to dismiss the other. Doctors also need to realize the white coat is not always right and learn more about the individual experience of the patients they are treating. With so much stigma surrounding mental health in our daily life, it is tough to think we would have to navigate in the place we go to get better. 

Creating spaces that do not dismiss us for our mental health requires us to change how the school teaches about psychological and physical health. It also requires providers not always to feel that they know what is best based on the textbook. But to understand the nuances of what a person is experiencing.

For patients, it looks like having the understanding to know that a mental illness does not make you any less worthy of proper care or the right to speak up with your body. Instead, it is knowing that healthcare providers out there will be a supportive figures and not judgemental. Below are tips to navigate mental illness with healthcare providers:

  1. Find a provider who understands mental health and physical health are related.
  2. Discuss healthcare providers with your therapist (sometimes they have referrals)
  3. Discuss your experiences with your therapist or mental health professional to keep a record.
  4. Tell your healthcare provider to note in your chart anytime they deny you a test or exam based on your mental health.
  5. Implement self-care techniques because provider navigation can be overwhelming. 

When discussing mental health, we need to allow open dialogue and a collaborative approach between the patient and physician. In addition, during the summer of 2022, HUED will be launching its E-learning pilot course centering on cultural competency. This program will equip care seekers and providers with the information needed to understand how these health detriments impact us individually and as a community. 

No patient should be denied care because of their mental illness, and in fact, this should be an opportunity to create an individualized plan.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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