With more and more people opening up about their mental health online, you may find yourself thinking about a few things. You may feel proud of them for opening up about their struggles on a large platform, or you might feel comforted and feel less alone that someone you know also has struggles with their mental health. You might think about how social media is helping reduce the stigma about mental illness by giving many the opportunity to write about what they’re going through too!
And depending on what they’re opening up about, you may feel concerned for them. But it’s already easy to overanalyze our every interaction and potential interaction when using social media already, so how do you reach out to someone to check in on them if you’re worried about them? What if you share a social media platform with your child and see that they’re posting something that they haven’t shared with you about their mental health?
Unfortunately, most people are less likely to engage with negative posts, and are less likely to reach out because of the bystander effect (where they think that someone else is going to talk to that person, so they don’t need to). However, one of the best ways to approach these kinds of situations is to think about what you want people to do if you ever expressed that you’re struggling with your mental health. What do you want them to say? How would you want them to say it? What don’t you want them to say?
In the case that you know this person and interact with them frequently (like your child or a friend of yours), a phone call or a conversation where you simply just ask how they are doing and show support can have a powerful impact. Just checking in on them and letting them know that you hope things look up soon can also help.
In more severe cases, it’s best to find someone close to that person and reach out to them to let them know that you’re concerned. Most social media sites also allow you to flag that post and report it stating that you think that person might be in harm.
Have you ever seen your child post something concerning online? What would you do if you saw your child posting something online about their mental health? What would you do if one of their friends reached out to you with concern?