Social Media, the Internet and Mental Wellbeing

Many people are finding that social media and the internet can be very beneficial in supporting mental health and wellbeing, but it’s important to find the most positive ways to use these technologies safely and avoid the pitfalls. Our colleagues at Outside the Box Development Services have been working with people who have experienced mental health problems to develop some guidance on getting the best out of the internet.

Here’s some background from Outside the Box:

“For many of us using the internet has become an essential part of everyday life. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how we did things without it. From finding recipes to booking holidays, the internet can make a lot of things simpler. Over time a range of internet services have been developed for people with mental health problems, including online community forums and places for advice and support. 

“There are other ways we can use the internet to keep well, such as staying in touch with friends and family through social media. Sometimes we aren’t well enough to see people but we still want to chat to and feel connected to others. This can help us to feel better.  However, people with poor mental health are less likely than the general population to use the internet and digital ways of communicating. They are less likely to have internet access at home.

“Outside the Box spoke to people with mental health problems to ask about the barriers that prevent them from getting online. We also heard about the benefits people get when they do have access to digital technology. We've used this information to put together some hints and tips about digital inclusion and mental health.

“Speaking with people also helped us to get an idea of some downsides to think about, so we’ve included a section about staying safe online. Digital inclusion is about ensuring that as many people as possible have access to and skills to use things like smart phones, tablets and computers, social media and the internet so they can participate and benefit in the new technology. We hope that many people find this resource useful.”

There is more information on the Outside the Box work on digital inclusion for mental health and for older people. And you can download their free guides for mental health and for older people.

Mental health charity MIND have information on staying safe online and using the internet for positive mental health support

If you are a carer, you may also find this Mind Waves piece from carers’ champion Tommy Whitelaw of interest: “When caring became too much, my blog became my pal”