Improving mental health in a digital world.
In 2019, you'll likely spend a lot of your life online. But this can have serious adverse effects on your mental health.
We know that the internet is a wonderful thing. We spend most of our time helping clients to spread the word about their creative work using online channels. People who might not have previously known about the wonderful organisations we work with get the chance to discover, interact and enjoy.
The internet has enabled us to make friends with people who share our common interests. It allows us to share our passions (and photos of our cat) and keep in touch with distant family. But even with all the good, there are some bad effects as well.
A number of studies have found an association between social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating issues, and increased suicide risk. The often-cited phenomenon of people developing unrealistic expectations of their body, lifestyle or relationships by viewing the world through the edited lens of Instagram and Facebook can be a contributing factor to this.
Similarly, the number of ‘likes’ a social media post might get can also affect mental wellness. In 2017 DitchtheLabel.org, the largest anti-bullying support hub in the world, surveyed site users and discovered that nearly one-fifth of respondents said they’d delete a post if it didn’t receive enough “likes”.
What can we do to solve this?
We all know that working in the arts is busy and pressured – and our personal social media habits may not be helping. Abstention is unrealistic and clearly not the answer – but doing something proactive might be.
Talking about mental health can be difficult. If you’ve ever been concerned about the well-being of a colleague, but not spoken to them about it for fear of saying the wrong thing, you’ll understand exactly. It’s a common fear – but one that could get in the way of someone finding the help they need.
If a colleague physically injured themselves, you’d know exactly what to do. But with mental ill-health, the response can be less obvious. One option is to start taking some practical action – and that’s exactly what one of our partners is doing.
Creative Freedom was borne out of a desire to change the conversation about mental health in the cultural and creative sectors. It is the only organisation in the UK specialising in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for the sector. Their two-day training course gives individuals and organisations the skills and knowledge to support mental health and increases awareness around common conditions.
Their work has already been adopted and embedded in the BBC, Channel 4 and an increasing number of public and private sector bodies and it’s having a real impact. Those completing the course become certified Mental Health First Aiders and well-being champions. They also become genuine advocates for mental health.
Creative Freedom delivers in-house and online training for organisations of all sizes.
This article was first published on the HdK website on World Mental Health Day, May 2019.