Well that is one way to get the public’s attention about mental health issues! On January 18th a mysterious Instagram account popped up with an image of a brown egg against a white background and using the handle @world_record_egg. The caption challenged the app users to like the post in order to surpass the IG record of likes set by Kylie Jenner (18 million), which it managed to do nearly three-fold.
The big reveal about what the brown egg would eventually hatch occurred just following the Superbowl game last weekend, which surprised the account’s 10 million followers. It appears that Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization advocating for mental health awareness for over a hundred years, used the social media stunt to address the stigma around mental health disorders. Interestingly, the organization used social media to home in on the fact that social media as a common source of emotional strife. An episode that aired on Hulu revealed the core message of the mental health egg on Instagram: “If you’re struggling too, talk to someone.”
This very creative promotional stunt was successful in gathering a huge audience using the tools of mystery and intrigue to captivate their attention for weeks. While many were disappointed in the ultimate reveal, others were pleased about opening up a public dialogue and awareness about mental health. For too long, the stigma attached to mental health disorders has prevented countless individuals from seeking the treatment they need and deserve.
Let’s Talk About the Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
That mental health egg on Instagram is on to something. Many people have grown to have a love/hate relationship with social media. Fear of mission out (FOMO) keeps people coming back, sometimes totaling hours a day, in spite of the residual effects it seems to leave them with. These can include feelings of inadequacy, envy, reduced self-confident, low self-esteem, and even hostility toward those with different political views. Users of social media want to be in the know, they want to stay current and relevant but at what cost?
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found statistical significance between Facebook usage and compromised wellbeing. The study addresses the difference between the effects of face-to-face interactions and those on a computer app like Facebook. Social interaction is important for human wellness, providing a type of protective effect against depression, loneliness, substance abuse, and disease. However, online social interactions may not only decrease the opportunities for real life social interactions, but may increase all the above issues—depression, loneliness, substance abuse, and ill health. According to the study results, use of Facebook was associated with lower life satisfaction, a higher body mass index (i.e., fat), and poorer mental health.
As social media continues to pervade our daily lives, even if it does this with our reluctant consent, more attention should be paid to the way social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat actually make us feel. These sources of social input can manipulate our views, tastes, and perspectives through mob mentality, bullying, and shaming. People may soon feel a dissonance caused as they are slowly moving away from their core beliefs and values towards crowd pleasing ones. This can eventually take a toll on mental health, showing up in disorders like anxiety and depression.
Anxiety Disorder Explained
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in America, with about 40 million people impacted by these each year. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) features an irrational level of worry, beyond what a given situation would call for. The symptoms include intense fear, fatigue, irritability, ruminating over things, restlessness, concentration problems, constant worry, insomnia, headache and stomach problems, sweating, and palpitations.
Treatment for GAD includes a combination of treatment elements. These include psychotherapy, anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan), and holistic therapies. Holistic therapies that promote stress relief include massage therapy, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, gardening therapy, and regular exercise.
Depression affects over 16 million adults in the U.S. each year, making it the second most prevalent mental health disorder. Major depressive disorder features persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, weight gain or loss, change in sleeping habits, slowed cognitive and motor functioning, irrational feelings of guilt or shame, and suicidal ideation.
Treatment for depression consists of an integrated approach that includes psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), antidepressant drug therapy, adjunctive therapies such as TMS therapy, and holistic activities. Holistic therapies that help depression include yoga, guided imagery, equine therapy, art therapy, mindfulness meditation, and regular exercise.
Reach Out to Someone
If you were inspired by the message of the mental health egg on Instagram you may be, or have a loved one, suffering with a mental health issue. There are several avenues to take in seeking professional help for a mental health disorder. These might include:
- Your physician. The doctor will first complete a thorough physical exam and order blood work to determine whether the symptoms being experienced originate from a medical condition. If not, your doctor can either refer you to a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist, or he or she may simply prescribe medication and monitor your progress.
- Mental health practitioner. A psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy, and a psychotherapist is primarily accessed for one-on-one talk therapy or group therapy sessions.
- Outpatient mental health clinic. Outpatient therapy, groups, medication management, and experiential activities are available as outpatient programs.
- Residential mental health program. This level of care is appropriate for more severe mental health issues after outpatient care has not been successful. Residential programs provide a safe, supportive environment for individuals to engage in more intensive treatment.
The Treatment Specialist is a Free Online Resource For Guidance and Information About Mental Health Issues
The Treatment Specialist is a team of mental health professionals available to help individuals seeking information about mental health disorders or dual diagnosis. The specialists can provide helpful information about a specific mental health challenge, including anxiety and/or depression linked to social media exposure. If you saw the message of the mental health egg on Instagram you know not to suffer in silence anymore. Reach out to The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.