media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg looks at how social media might actually aid mental health.

While social media platforms can have their benefits, using them too frequently can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run,” writes Sabrina Barr in an article for the Independent.

While this may have been true in the past, it is important to remember that people have been practising self-isolation and social distancing since the outbreak of COVID-19, which has completely changed the way in which people socialise with one another.

With many experiencing anxiety and feeling lonely, people are spending more time on social media than ever before — and it’s actually helping.

With that in mind, here are three examples of how social media platforms are helping people cope with current issues:

1. Netflix and Instagram partner up to release ‘Wanna talk about it?’

On Wednesday, 8 April, Netflix announced that it is partnering up with Instagram to release a live series where celebrities talk to a mental health expert about the current issues that people are facing.

The first live session was done by Noah Centineo, who spoke to Dr. Ken Duckworth about getting to grips with self-care during the lockdown. Self-care is vital for every human to ensure that they continue working on the relationships that they have with themselves. Being able to take care of yourself and love yourself will allow you to have good mental health during such a stressful time.

The next topic was about how to create your own personal space while in lockdown, as many people are sitting at home with a lot of people, such as roommates, siblings and your parents. This discussion took place between Joey King, a well-known celebrity, and Nancy Lublin who works at Crisis Text Line.

Why this matters: People might feel alone and uncertain during this time, and that is why it is important to talk about these issues. Seeing famous people discuss these issues with mental health advisers will help make individuals feel included and they will know that they are not the only ones feeling unsure. 

Be sure to check out this Instagram video where the celebrities talk about the new series.

2. TikTok partners with big personalities to launch #HappyAtHome

Humans are social creatures and it is in our nature to want to go out and keep ourselves busy with various activities. This makes being in lockdown extremely hard — especially for our extroverted friends. And that is exactly why TikTok introduced its #HappyAtHome live series, where celebrities go onto TikTok every half an hour to entertain everyone who is isolating at home.

Why this matters: Keeping people smiling and entertained on social media during self-isolation is a great way to make sure that their mental health is being stimulated and taken care of. This is because “laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. [and] endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.”

Be sure to check out TikTok's announcement on Twitter here.

3. Instagram introduces new ways for users to browse their newsfeeds with friends

On Tuesday, 24 March, Instagram announced that it wants to keep people informed, safe and supported during COVID-19.

In doing so, the platform added the following new features:
  • More educational resources in the Instagram Search.
  • Stickers to promote accurate information surrounding COVID-19.
  • The removal of COVID-19 accounts from recommendations. The only exceptions are ones that are posted by credible health organisations.
  • Donation stickers, which will be included in more countries. The aim is to help people find relevant nonprofits to support during the pandemic.
  • The ability to create a ‘shared’ story to help those practicing social distancing to connect with others; this can be done by using a “Stay Home” sticker.
  • A new way to browse Instagram with friends over video chat.
Why this matters: Allowing users to connect and browse through their newsfeed together is a great way to make people feel less lonely. Users can also video chat and scroll through their newsfeeds at the same time, which lets them communicate about the memes they see or the cute animal posts that they want to share.

Do you think social media is a healthy way to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic? Let us know in the comments section below.

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With social media being overflown with COVID-19 content, the only way to get people to see your posts is by using the right hashtags. Luckily, we’ve got the top Seven trending hashtags about COVID-19 right here.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy