– By Avisha Holly
Mental health. In the past I (as perhaps many others) have subconsciously associated this term with those suffering from severe and extreme symptoms of depression, anxiety, and self-harm. However this could not be more untrue. Poor mental health can exist in anyone at various levels sometimes continuously and sometimes sporadically.
The WHO found that over 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. There are many causal factors which may vary from socio-economic disadvantages, domestic/sexual violence, loneliness, stress, discrimination and poverty ( to list a few) . According to the Huffington Post, 1 in 5 women in the UK suffer from mental health issues comparative to 1 in 8 for men. Furthermore more than one quarter of women aged between 16 and 24 are suffering from symptoms of mental health issues. For today, let’s focus on this demographic in MEDC’s.
As part of the Millennial generation, it doesn’t seem surprising to me that it is young women now who are the highest risk group for mental health disorders. The “Selfie culture” and the obsessive addiction we have to Social Media has inevitably played a leading factor in the way women and girls feel and perceive themselves. Our lives are consumed by the digital world, and when we are surrounded by what seems like perfect lives, perfect relationships, perfect families, perfect bodies, we create an impossible comparison. For many young girls and women this imaginary pedestal can lead to negative body image, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction which in turn may result in anxiety and depression.
My message for young women is simple. Behind every Instagram/Facebook/whichever platform, there is a woman with an insecurity. Every single man and woman on earth has one. It is so important to remember you are not alone. Are we ever going to shout it out on social media? No. Are we ever going to post that awkward photo which may in fact be how we really look in real life? No. Having a blue day? No. Argument with a dear one? No. Unfiltered and bad lighting? God no.
At the same time Social Media has connected the world in a way like never before- and that is the beauty of it. It has transformed our ability to support causes, globalize voices, stay in touch with loved ones across oceans, E-commerce and marketing. However headlines such as “Young Women highest mental risk as selfie culture heaps pressure” or “Mental health- situational critical: the Effect of Social Media” should not exist. Of course I love a cheeky selfie, but when this culture becomes destructive to our society’s mental health- that is a problem. Never doubt that your self worth is reflected in how perfect your selfie is or how many likes/comments/attention you receive on social media.
Focus energy on your internal self, help others in any way you can (you will be surprised how positive it can make you feel) be grateful, always stay grateful, because that is your reality and unlike our exterior or highlight reel online will never fade.
At Friendsline we regard our ‘Emotional Well-being’ seminars as an extremely important part of our programme. To read more on our work do check out www.friendsline.org