Mental health in the age of social media


Mental health in the age of social media
How to deal with depression, breakups and friendships in the age of social media.

We caught up with Megan Street, a Melbourne-based author, model and qualified secondary school teacher to discuss her new book Well, This Is Growing Up.

Your book Well, This Is Growing Up deals with topics including depression, anxiety and suicide. What inspired you to write this book and how can it help people suffering from mental health issues?

As most of us already know depression, anxiety and suicide is on the rise, suicide is now the leading cause of death in Australia among people aged 15-44. After sadly losing a friend to suicide, I realised that I had to do something to help anyone else who may be struggling – I’ve said from day dot if Well, This is Growing Up can just help one person out there I’ll be happy. After studying social science and psychology I realised that I had many tips, tricks and secrets that can instantly turn any frown upside down! Social media can really influence a person’s feelings about themselves, be it enhancing loneliness, generating poor self-esteem or fostering jealousy.

What do you recommend we do to avoid these issues?

As much as I love social media I also can’t stand it at the same time. Some tips I recommend:

  • Unfollow those who make you feel terrible. I actually unfollowed almost all of the Victoria’s Secret models I used to follow because I’d compare myself to their photoshopped images.
  • Limit yourself – self-restraint is massively hard but worth it! Imagine if you spent 10 minutes less a day on social media and used that 10 mins to do something productive. If you used it for writing, you’d have a book in less than one year!
  • Don’t be bitter, become better. A great way to positively use social media is to make sure that it is inspiring us to become better versions of ourselves. Hating someone you are jealous of won’t make you any better but using them as motivation can work wonders. E.g. they say that they run 2km three times a week, make that your new goal.

How can we pick ourselves up after a breakup?

  • First and foremost, cut contact, full stop. No likes, no comments, no story watches. Not only does it make it easier for you to get over the breakup, it also makes them miss you.
  • Get out and live your life! Relationships can sometimes stop us from being who we truly want to be and from taking up things we wish we did earlier. So if you’ve always wanted to play dodgeball, go paddle boarding or dye your hair pink – do it!
  • Whatever happens, don’t do what feels natural, which for most is texting the day after you have broken up with ‘hey wanna talk, I miss you’, ‘I think we should give it another shot’ or ‘hey how would you feel about doing one last catch up?’. If you really want to send one of these messages or similar, do one month of no contact, get out and live your life, see other people and if you still wish to after that give it a shot – if it is meant to be it will be.

Friendships change a lot when you are in high school and university. What are some ways we can tell who our real friends are and nourish those friendships?

That is so true! Some great ways to tell if they are real friends or not are:

  • Whether they ask questions about you and are interested in your life
  • Whether they care about you and are there for you when it’s not all sunshine and roses
  • Whether they are happy for your happiness/success – or as some say ‘whether they clap when you win’
  • I’m big on energy and going by the gut feeling you get with someone – you normally get a feeling who is ‘on your side’ and who isn’t.

What are some quick tips for instant happiness?

  • Be grateful for something even if it’s something small. When we are thankful we are always focusing on the positive not negative.
  • A gratitude journal works wonders, simply list everything you are grateful for in a journal and when feeling down open it up and read away.
  • Help someone else! One of the best ways to immediately feel happier is to help someone else. Help the little old lady bring her groceries to the car, do a random act of kindness and pay for someone’s petrol or simply smile at a stranger.
  • One word: exercise. It releases happy endorphins immediately.

What’s your number one piece of advice for young women dealing with mental health issues?

‘If you’re going through hell, keep going!’ – Winston Churchill. Comparing yourself to others will never bring happiness. Remember that we are all on our own separate paths, with everything happening to us at the right time. Meditation and prayer can also work wonders!

10% of the profits of your book go to BeyondBlue. What is BeyondBlue and why did you make this gesture?

As you know I sadly lost a friend to suicide a few years ago, so I felt that I needed to donate to such an amazing organisation helping those struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide. By donating I increase the chances of helping more people.

Are there any quotes you live by?

  • The enemy of your potential is your comfort zone
  • When there is a will there is a way
  • Let whoever think whatever just keep on getting better




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