Social networks and mental health: the dangers of an increasingly widespread reality

Currently, Mental health is a widespread problem in the population, especially among young people.

It’s a huge step forward in terms of normalizing a previously stigmatized subject, but it’s definitely a double-edged sword. Below are some of the main risks posed by the massive expansion of this type of information.

    Self-diagnosis and social networks

    Obviously, self-diagnosis will never be a recommended method to approach the understanding of mental health phenomena.

    We have seen how posts on the same subject have proliferated exponentially in recent years and there is obviously an effort by many and many professionals to bring people ideas on the same subject, but this ends up having undesirable effects: by greatly simplifying the language of psychology and psychiatry to make it understandable to those who are not experts, it also takes away some of the richness of its content and background.

    To the already widespread practice of self-diagnosis of all types of diseases in search engines like Google, information of even poorer quality is often added due to the lightness of many of the aforementioned posts, which do not provide more information. information about their sources.

    The above is more dangerous in adolescents. There is a kind of over-identification (and very slightly) with the possible symptoms of the different types of psychopathology, which often leads them to be locked into categories and diseases whose central aspects they do not address, or not at all. This often results in phenomena of an identity nature, among which self-diagnosis becomes a central element in the definition of the person who uses it.

      Looking for easy likes, the mistake of some professionals

      Everything mentioned so far becomes even more dangerous when the Internet and the sources derived from it are used as a substitute for professional judgment. And unfortunately within the framework of a culture which values ​​the instantaneous, the fast and also which weighs very positively the logic of mutual aid, that happens too often.

      Worse still, when we see mental health professionals delivering rapid diagnoses in spaces other than the clinic, in the mass mediasince they contribute to digging into the previous logic simply to gain visibility and obtain their own benefits which may deviate from the basic ethical principles that must govern the professions that take care of mental health.

      There’s usually nothing wrong with giving “tips” or mere advice. Counseling is not the same as psychotherapeutic intervention. The first is more of a simple solution applicable to a generality of cases.

      Psychotherapeutic interventions, on the other hand (whose place is that of the clinic and the consultation), they make sense in the particularity of a person’s problem and the search for alternatives and solutions that contribute to mitigating it. In general what we find on the networks is rather the first, but it is certainly not recommended if you try to apply the second.

        The difference between normalization and trivialization

        There is a fundamental difference between normalizing and trivializing the suffering involved in the human experience. That it normalizes as part of life is even desirable, understanding normalization as part of our daily conversations, that we accept that the mind is as important as any other phenomenon involved in health or that we begin to have a more general knowledge on the subject.

        Trivialization is another problem: not because we know that a psychopathology or a certain type of suffering can be very prevalent in society and that we have more and more shared experiences on the same means that they must therefore lose their attention or their perception of risk. In this context, the greatest dangers that can be observed in social networks emerge: when all these subjects practically become an object of consumption or a space for the appropriation of a generational experience, as happens mainly in adolescents .

          How to distinguish useful information

          It is difficult to give general guidelines as the type of information circulating is very varied, but basically it is important to know who are those who produce itwhat subjects are they experts on and what are their sources.

          It happens in psychology and psychotherapy that there are many currents or approaches of thought that can be very diverse and even contrary to each other in some of their approaches, which is not a problem in itself, provided that present substantial substantive arguments that support what is published and exhibited. The three parameters mentioned above can be useful to analyze the quality of these arguments.

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