The impact of Social media on young India’s mental health

The impact of Social media on young India’s mental health

News: The growing dependency on social media is very worrying as its constant use leads to many problems like exposure to risky content, changes in behavioral patterns, inferiority complex, cyber-bullying etc.

What problems can it lead to?
• Depression - According to UNICEF, 1 in 7 Indians aged 15 to 24 years feel depressed. Depression is linked to lack of self-esteem, poor concentration and other maladaptive symptoms, and can lead to difficulties in communication, failure to work or study productively, amplified risk of substance use and abuse, as well as suicidal thoughts. One of the key risk factors for these prevalent rates of depression is social media.
• Lack of socialization – Increasing screen time on your mobiles especially on Social media takes your time away from doing things that may actually benefit your mental health like connecting with others in person, spending time in nature and taking care of yourself.
• Body Dysmorphic Disorder - Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health problem. If you have BDD, you may be so upset about the appearance of your body that it gets in the way of your ability to live normally. Many of us have what we think are flaws in our appearance. But if you have BDD, your reaction to this “flaw” may become overwhelming. Social media has contributed to BDD through comparison, bullying, teasing each other based on their profile pictures, posts and videos.

What are the suggestions?
• Action on mental health needs to be taken seriously. We must monitor the incidence of psychiatric disorders (like depression, anxiety) and identify the factors of risk and resilience.
• Bringing an individual closer to natural things, nature, socialization in family, schools and professional spaces can help.
• Focus on exercise and meditation.
• Need of creating awareness and dialogue that would help in de-stigmatizing the issue, in order to allow autonomy for the individual to share feelings in a safe space.
• Pragmatic government policies based on empirical evidence, strong political will, social inclusion, mental health literacy, vibrant media and a responsive corporate sector coupled with innovative technologies and crowdsourcing could mitigate this apathy.
• There is a need to conduct a disaggregated situational assessment of the diverse young demographic in our country. Such an assessment should keep in mind the differences associated with class, gender and other social factors.

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