We all know terrible stories about how social media can diminish a sense of identity and well-being, especially among young people or those already suffering from self-esteem issues, depression, etc.
Well, there’s a silver lining. It looks like social media can also help those impressionable teens and young adults feel better, too.
More than selfies
While there’s nothing wrong with taking and posting selfies—we love doing it ourselves—people, specifically teens, can get caught up in trying to look perfect. In addition to striving for the perfect look, teens also can become obsessed with living the perfect life. All this “competition” can increase depression and anxiety teens may already have.
So, when Instagram launched its May campaign, #HereForYou, people—specifically teens—took note.
It’s safe to assume that Instagram executives knew that its now-active campaign would work. After all, Instagram users have been talking about their mental health for a while.
“Through Instagram I was able to connect with other girls who were going through similar things,” Elyse Fox, famous Instagrammer, says.
Fox started @sadgirlsclubpbg, “an in-person group to show girls with mental illness that they aren’t alone,” Teen Vogue reports.
Although Fox feels free to share her feelings now, she didn’t always have that confidence. But because of her bravery, she’s helping other girls on Instagram become more vocal, too.
Why hashtags work
There is an inherent vulnerability with mental health.
Opening up about mental health issues means talking about something that culture typically deems “wrong and bad”, Nancy M. Mae, psychology expert, energy medicine expert, and author, says
Keeping conversations about mental health open and honest is the only way people can face their illnesses.
“It can often be very helpful to talk with others who are further along the path than where you are,” Mae says.
“They can give you the courage and inspiration to move forward on your own path. This is an element of social proof whereby we see someone else taking action, which in turn can propel us to take action as well.”
Mae explains that Instagram’s visual aspect can help build trust. So, hashtag campaigns are more than just a trend—they actually help users fell like they are part of a community.
“This gives you the opportunity to find your tribe, the people who you feel understand you, who can ‘see’ you and hear you,” Mae says.
A person’s life gets easier when she is heard and seen…That’s how she knows she isn’t alone.