Looking After Your Mental Health Online

A Guide to Improving Your Mental Well-Being

Technology and the internet offer endless positive opportunities – improved connection, learning, self-expression, and accessible support are just a few. However, the universal transparency it brings can be an underlying source of mental health issues.

The internet can be used to expose vulnerable users, especially young people, to inappropriate content and risks such as bullying, grooming, sexual harassment, and excessive use. The reality of today’s society is that there is no longer a difference between the on and offline world – users are constantly connected which means there’s no hiding or escaping unwanted content. This can cause it to be a very overwhelming and pressuring place, which can have a significant impact on a person’s self-worth and self-esteem.

A number of studies have found an association between social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating disorders, and increased suicide risk. Furthermore, statistics published by the CDC highlight that up to one in five kids living in the US shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.

Whether you’re a friend, district admin, or a teacher, it’s important that we are all aware of how to improve mental health and know what to do if you or someone you know is struggling. Smoothwall recommends following our top tips to promote positive well-being online:

    • Acknowledge the filters. People share content that has been specifically selected and edited to present a particular version of themselves, it’s rarely an accurate portrayal of reality. What people show is usually just a highlight reel.
    • Create a positive space online and think about the friends you follow. Do you know your ‘friends’ in real life, if not, why are you connected with them? If you follow ‘experts’, do they share truthful and positive content? Choose accounts that share the same motivations as you.
    • Be kind. Remember that what you say online is just as relevant as in real-life, don’t do or say anything that you wouldn’t say to someone face to face. Also know that if you’re using a school-owned device and you’re attacking a peer, you could face consequences for cyberbullying.
    • Know your settings. Make sure you know how to change your privacy settings, how to block users and contacts, and how to eport other users across all platforms.
    • Be aware of how long you’re online. It’s important to have some screen-free time and give your eyes a rest. Why not set aside some time each day to do something else e.g. physical exercise, reading a book or complete that task you’ve been putting off?
    • Talk to someone if you’re struggling or not enjoying it. Whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher or a helpline, there is always someone happy to listen.

If you or someone you know has any questions about mental health including where to go for advice and support, please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website, MentalHealth.gov.

If you would like to find out how Smoothwall’s digital safety solutions can identify vulnerable students, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help.

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