Tips for Social Sharing of Your Mental Health Journey
If you’re struggling with mental health problems, you might feel alone. Yet, some 57.8 million Americans or 22.8% of the population qualify as having a mental health disorder. Of those, 21 million Americans have a severe mental health disorder which impairs their life or ability to live “normally”. Mental health problems are extremely normal and common – despite the fact that there’s significant stigma and misunderstanding around them.
Sharing your journey, your progress, treatment, and how you’re doing on social media can give you a way to communicate with your loved ones, with a broader audience, and to take steps to reduce stigma. But, whether you’re sharing with a closed audience of friends and family or with a broader audience to educate and inspire others, doing so can be intimidating. Many of us are taught to keep silent about poor health, especially mental health, and that’s even more true if you happen to be male. Yet, doing so can be liberating and freeing and it can give you room to express yourself and share how you feel.
Decide What You Want to Share and Why
Not every part of your life should be public – and that’s even true if you’re only sharing to a closed audience. It’s important to decide what you want to share and why. You can always change those decisions later. However, it’s a good idea to go into social media with an idea of what you want.
Are you sharing because you want to:
- Keep your friends and family up to date with your mental health and your journey?
- Inspire others to get help?
- Reduce the stigma around mental health disorders?
- Have a platform to share for yourself?
You don’t have to pick just one. Your motivations can be varied and you might want more than one thing from sharing your journey.
Once you know what you want to share, you can better decide on the audience. For example, if it’s the first or the last, you might want to keep your platform private. That will mean sharing it with a selected audience. On the other hand, if it’s any of the middle two, you’d likely want to curate your posts and share at least some content publicly. And, many platforms allow for a mix of both public and private content, so you might be able to share some content publicly while still sharing very private information with your friends and family.
Educate and Reduce Stigma but Don’t Act Like an Expert
Most of us like the opportunity to educate others. However, it’s important to approach sharing as someone who is experiencing things and not as a medical expert. That means you can share information and link to sources or share your research but that you shouldn’t offer diagnoses or medical advice to anyone. If you want to be safe, you can always start conversations where you talk about someone else’s mental health problems by adding disclaimers like “I am not a psychologist or a doctor and I’d recommend you talk to them about this for professional advice, but here is my opinion”.
Doing so can prevent you from interfering with someone else seeking out actual help rather than relying on you as an expert. It also means that you explicitly tell people that you aren’t an expert and no matter how much experience you have dealing with their issues yourself, you are not a medical expert.
Be Personal and Real
Posting about your real life without changing things to make them better or worse is important. If you want to share, it’s a good idea to do so openly and in a genuine fashion. At the same time, it’s important to ensure that you keep private things (like where you live) private if you’re sharing publicly. Things like your relationships with others, your home address, your children’s school, etc., should largely stay off the internet – although you may be able to discuss with partners and family about sharing about those relationships.
At the same time, if you can be genuine and share the things you’re actually going through, what you’re actually dealing with, and how that affects you, you’ll achieve the goals of sharing your journey much better than if you use curated content or a planned schedule of what to share.
Build a Community
Millions of Americans have mental health problems. Even if you’re just sharing to a network of friends and family, you’re not alone in having a mental health disorder in the circle you’re sharing to. This means that social media is an opportunity to build a community of support, to share information, to help each other, and to do your best for the people in that community. In fact, most people don’t start out with the intention to create viral content – but rather to share to a smaller audience of people they know. Working with that community means you can share about what they care about interact with the people in your life in a genuine way.
Maintain Your Boundaries
Social media can be demanding. People can be demanding. It’s as important to have boundaries online as it is to have them in real life. That means deciding when to share, deciding when you need a break, blocking people if they are being aggressive or demanding, and learning when to step back and let things go. Set boundaries, don’t engage in things that overtax you, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured or pushed into anything. That can be as simple as knowing when to put your social media down when it starts to drain you. It might also be more complicated, like removing someone from your online community if they are creating drama or causing stress. You know what your boundaries are and should be and it is important that you maintain them.
Eventually, sharing online can give you an outlet to share and to feel heard. It might also do the opposite, because social media can feel very disconnected from reality. Focusing on sharing in a genuine way, offering real updates, and sharing with the audience you want to connect with should help with that. At the same time, it’s important to protect yourself and others by ensuring that you don’t offer medical advice, that you have boundaries, and that you take care to build a supportive community rather than just a platform to share from.
If you or a loved one needs help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to ask about our modern and effective treatment programs.