Archive of ‘Society’ category

Social Media & Mental Health

If I were to have 20, 50, or even 100 people in a room and asked them all if they had a social media account, chances are all (or most everyone) would say “yes”.  Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., (you get the point), social media has become (and has been for years) a fundamental component of people’s lives.  By definition, social media is a website and/or application that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.  While this is an accurate definition, it oversimplifies everything that social media represents in society today.  Social media is a way to stay connected with others and it creates opportunities for new ideas & inspiration, however, it can also create avenues for self-loathing, cyberbullying, and envy.  While it’s certainly not all good or all bad, it’s important to be mindful of the impacts social media can have on mental health. 

How Social Media is Beneficial

  • Enhanced Connectivity
    • It has become easier for us to connect with business people, family and friends and maintain relationships that may otherwise have not been sustained. 
  • Encourages Creativity & Innovative Thinking
    • Social media sites are all about content in a variety of forms. From written content to photos and graphics, there are many ways for users to participate, engage, and show off their creativity.
  • Using Social Media for the Greater Good
    • Social media offers easy ways to show support for (or condemn) an issue, raise money, promote a charity event or spread an important message. People can be encouraged to get involved in philanthropic and altruistic causes via social media.
  • Social media can benefit people already dealing with mental health issues by helping them build online communities that provide a source of emotional support. 
    • This can be invaluable for people with various health conditions to know they are not alone and to know there are sources of support.  These individuals are often one of the most vulnerable in society and can help reduce the stigma attached to seeking treatment.

Potential Detrimental Effects of Social Media

  • Social Media Use Can Lead to Feelings of Depression & Loneliness
    • Ever heard of FOMO (fear of missing out)?  Social media is a platform for people to showcase their best selves (and best version of their lives).  It’s all-too-easy for someone to peruse through a friend’s social media account and feel lonely (because they’re left out)—which could lead to feelings of depression.  This phenomena has been referred to as Facebook Envy
  • Worsened Body Image (particularly for young women)
    • When people, especially women, follow pages/accounts/media that depict attractive women’s photos, it can cause adverse effects on body image and decrease self-esteem.  When people interact with family members on social media, this does not happen. 
  • Worsened Attention Span
    • Because social media provides a means of constantly giving into the temptation of instant, easy-access entertaining, this ultimately means people can (and do) become more easily distracted. 
  • Poor Sleep Habits
    • Checking your phone ONE more time before bed is a habit that many people have created.  Doing this can create anxiety or envy—which ultimately keeps the brain on high alert and prevents people from falling asleep.  Additionally, having light from a mobile device inches from our face can suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel tired.

What to Do About It

  • Turn off your notifications for at least a few hours each day.  This can be accomplished by putting your phone in “Airplane” mode or “Do Not Disturb”
  • Delete apps that contribute to unhealthy body image or feelings of inadequacy. 
  • Add apps or follow pages that help you feel better about yourself or inspire you to engage in healthy behaviors.  Some of our recommendations include:
  • Take a day off from social media to focus on other things.  We recommend doing this on a day that you don’t have school or work so you can use that time to participate in other activities you enjoy 
  • Make a plan with a group of friends to spend more time hanging out in person and less time interacting via social media.
  • Set boundaries or only certain times when you can check your notifications.  This can be done by setting screentime limits. 
  • If you are a parent wanting to learn more about how to limit your child or teenager’s social media use, check out these additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Ultimately, using social media, screens, anything like that is not ALL bad and shouldn’t be banished, however, it’s important to be mindful of the detrimental effects and be intentional about how much time you do (or do not) allow yourself & your children to be on social media. 

By: Julie Burke, LPC

Follow her on Instagram for some positive social media posts!

Body Image Issues in America the Beautiful


How often do you worry about your looks? Your clothes? Your hair? Your body shape? Your weight? I could go on and on, as these are the factors women and men feel pressure about every day regarding their looks. Although some groups may experience this pressure more than others, it is always in the faces of all Americans via magazines, television, movies, social media, etc. In America, beauty and body image has become of high importance, which has led to more concerning issues.

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Over the decades, the “standard” of what is beautiful has been ever so changing. From voluptuous figures, to stick thin figures, to a mix of both, it is hard to keep up with the ever changing look of the time. In my work with women and teen girls specifically, I often ask, “What does it mean to be pretty?” Answers I have received include: thin, toned, tan, white teeth, blond hair, flowy hair, tall, large chest, large behind, etc.

Let’s piece out some of the factors that contribute to this mind set and other factors that contribute to body image issues in America.

1) Social media and magazines:

Especially amongst the teenage population, these images are displayed everywhere in places such as Instagram, magazines, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and other social media outlets. The reality is: most of us cannot achieve this particular “look” and this is something I like to discuss with clients often. With social media, it is important to remember that it is a place to put “the best face forward”. Images can be doctored, photoshopped, and filtered in order to look their best. Pictures can even be taken from certain angles, with certain lighting, and other factors that can alter the image to look even better. With teenagers, it is important to remind them of these things and the fact that their bodies are still growing and maturing and many of the looks that they want to achieve are developmentally impossible at their ages.

2) Dieting: This is an enormous category:

A few things to keep in mind. Dieting can be harmful to the body. Dieting has a also become an enormous industry in America. But, what is “right”? With all the books and information out there, mixed messages are being sent to people about how to eat. Dieting can be especially harmful to teenagers due to the fact that they are still growing and need more nutrition than the average adult. Not to get too much into dieting and eating healthy, as a therapist, my concern is how extreme dieting and excessive attention to food can lead to more harmful issues. The rising cases of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and orthorexia (obsession to “eat clean”) is alarming. With eating disorders can come depression, anxiety, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other detrimental concerns. The growing obsession with body image is leading to much larger issues amongst the American population.

3) Messages and pressure from others around us:

We often hear someone say, “You could stand to lose a little weight.” Or, “I would be prettier if you dropped a few pounds.” These messages can be heard by others and internalized as well. It automatically puts negative body image thoughts in other people’s minds. This negative talk and self-talk can lead to lowered self-esteem and self-confidence. In my work, this is something I come across often. People can be SO hard on themselves and the more they tell themselves these messages, the more they begin to believe them, in turn hurting themselves more. Many individuals can list negative aspects about themselves versus positive aspects. Being aware of what we say, either to ourselves or others, is important. Especially when we discuss these concerns are teenagers and adolescents, as these are negative messages they are directly learning.

Luckily, there are people and companies in America who are trying to turn around the negative issue of body image concerns.

Dove, Special K, and other American companies have started campaigns that revolve around positive body image – appreciating your body for how it is and how it was made. We all have something that bothers us about our bodies. We all have some sort of body image issue. But being aware of that is important as well as trying to remember that there is no “standard” or “perfect body”. Every individual is unique and beautiful in their own way. It is also crucial to remember that we should not forget our personalities and the wonderful qualities that come with that are also important. Beauty is not just on the outside.

Dispelling Some Myths about Introversion

By: Jill Baumgarner, Pre-Graduate Intern Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LPC, LMFT

By: Jill Baumgarner, Pre-Graduate Intern
Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LPC, LMFT

The introverted part of me was something that took me a while to understand. We live in a society that praises and encourages extroverted characteristics; they feel ‘normal’ and we understand them better. I didn’t know why I would feel so exhausted after being social for a few hours. I always needed a “weekend from my weekend”, so to speak. There were times when I would think, “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I not as excited as others to attend large social gatherings?” After doing some research and reading Susan Cain’s work “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and Sophia Dembling’s “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World”, I began to dispel some of the negative things I felt about myself due to my introverted characteristics. Therefore, I would like to share with you a few things I took away from these articles to help you understand your introverted self or loved one a little better.

First, not all introverts are shy and not all shy people are introverts. Shyness is a quality stemming from discomfort and anxiety in social interactions whereas introversion is more about recharging and gaining energy through alone time. This seems to be the number one misunderstanding about introverts.

Second, it’s a common myth that introverts don’t like to be around others. Introversion is not the same thing as misanthropy; introverts just enjoy social interaction in a different way. They may enjoy observations of social situations rather than participation or one-on- one conversation. Quality seems to be more important than quantity for introverts.

Third, it’s a misconception that introverts don’t make good leaders or public speakers. Research has shown that introverts enjoy and excel in roles that involve leading others, speaking publicly and being in the spotlight.

Fourth, some may think that being introverted means that you have a more negative personality. This is usually perceived because introverts actually like being alone. Extroverts, when having spent too much time alone, may feel isolated or depressed and may falsely assume that anyone who spends a lot of time alone must feel that way too. “Different strokes for different folks”.

Fifth, it’s untrue that introverts are more intellectual or creative than extroverts. Again being introverted or extroverted has more to do with how you regain your energy. As Dembling says, “Creativity occurs in an introverted space but that doesn’t mean we’ve cornered the market on it”.

Finally, although you may think the opposite, it’s actually not easy to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted. Being introverted doesn’t mean that you cannot walk up to everyone at a cocktail party and strike up a conversation, it just means that they will be looking forward to spending some alone time later to re-energize after the night’s events.

I would like to conclude my post to you with a very helpful quote I got from Dembling’s article:

“The description that introverts seem to relate most strongly to is the idea that Jung presented, that introverts are drained of energy by interaction, and gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction. It seems to be most strongly an energy thing –- where you get your energy and what takes it out of you.”


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