How could being online help my mental health?
Using online resources can be a great way to support your mental health. They can be helpful in a number of ways, including:
- Health information. You can search the internet for information about mental health problems, their symptoms and treatment options. Some people find researching their problems empowering. For example, you can use the internet to research the benefits and possible side effects of medications.
Online resources might be particularly useful if you feel socially isolated and less able to engage in face-to-face support.
They can also be helpful because you:
- can access them 24 hours a day
- don't usually have to wait or get a referral
- don't need a diagnosis to use them
- can use most sites for free
- can access them wherever you are (if you have access to the internet on your phone or other mobile device).
Remember, different people find different types of support useful. You might also find it helpful to combine online support with offline support, such as attending face-to-face groups.
Vlogging for mental health
Watch Jessica talk about how using YouTube and other social media to share her experiences of mental health has helped her cope.
Could it make my mental health worse?
While being online can be helpful for your mental health, there might be times when using online tools could have a negative impact on your mental health.
- Comparing yourself to others. Spending time on online communities and social media sites can mean that you end up comparing yourself to others. This can negatively impact your self-esteem and how you view your life. If you find this happening to you, you could try limiting the amount of time you spend on these sites. You could also try taking a longer break from any sites you find unhelpful.
- Feeling anxious or stressed. You might feel pressure to be constantly checking your social media accounts and taking part in online conversations, which can cause feelings of anxiety and stress. Comparing your life to others on social media can also mean you feel anxious and stressed.
- Difficulty sleeping. For some people, spending lots of time at night checking social media and other online sites disrupts their sleeping pattern. Some studies suggest stopping checking your phone at 10pm to give you time to unwind before going to bed.
- Feeling lonely. Some people find using online communities and social media a lonely experience as it doesn't give them the same feeling of connection as offline support. If you find you are feeling lonely while using these sites, you could try connecting with people offline. For example, you could join a face-to-face peer support group.
- Feeling overwhelmed. Being a friend to other people online can feel great, but caring for someone who's going through a difficult time can also be very stressful and overwhelming, and could affect your own wellbeing.
To try and avoid some of these issues, it might be a good idea to put some thought into what type of online tool is best for you right now, and to think about issues like safety & privacy, online relationships, and online / offline balance.
What offline support could I get?
Sometimes online support can't realistically give us all the help we want. If you find that things are becoming too much for you to cope with, or are worried about the way you are feeling or behaving, you may want to get additional support offline. You can: