The Salt Lake Community College counselor encourages people to become familiar with social media.
This story was jointly published by the nonprofit Amplify Utah I asked the Lake Tribune in collaboration with Salt Lake Community CollegeTo raise diverse perspectives in the local media through student journalism.
The Internet has made a few things right – mental illness is no exception.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, about 51.5 million adults in the United States experienced mental health issues in 2019. That’s one in five adults.
And many of these struggles start early. The study found that about half of lifelong mental illnesses begin at age 14, and 75% by age 24.
Generation Z and parts of millennials grew up largely with the internet, exploring a world where there is a community for everyone and sharing their experiences. This cultural shift has led older generations such as Generation X, spanning from 41 to 56 years, and baby boomers, aged 57 to 75, to reconsider the stigma around mental health and what it entails for living with mental illness.
The internet has helped people find solace, knowing that they are not alone, but it can leave people of all ages miring in misinformation about mental illness, said Jodi Lorenzen, a clinical mental health counselor at Salt Lake Community College’s Health and Counseling Center.
Lorenzen treats both elderly and young patients regularly, and said it can be easy to associate getting help with something wrong or shameful.
“People tend to think they are broken if they have mental health problems, rather than physical ones,” she said, explaining that physical ailments are not usually seen as a person’s fault, while mental health issues are sometimes, and are not, true, as well.
Lorenzen believes that the Internet has created space for the normalization of mental illness. She’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not just me. I can get help for this.”
The younger generations, often influenced by the people they follow on social media, have been shown to be quicker to seek treatment than their predecessors, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Despite criticism that excessive social media use can lead to anxiety and depression, the study found that 37% of Generation Z and 35% of Millennials were more likely to receive treatment or treatment compared to 26% of Generation X, and 22% of children. Boomers and 15% of the Silent Generation, or those over 76 years old.
Ian Eggleston, a 19-year-old biology student at SLCC, believes young people are more open to treatment.
“[They are more] Willing to change and adapt to new information. “There is a lot of learning about this [now]And a lot of knowledge.”
Anita Riddell, a 58-year-old music student, recalled students with more severe mental illnesses who were tutored separately at school.
“As adults, they are often placed in institutions,” she said.
She feels the recent influx of mental health positivity is partly due to celebrity endorsements, noting gymnast Simone Biles, who temporarily withdrew from the Summer Olympics, citing poor mental health.
Because of this, Riddle said, “others may feel less discouraged to express their mental issues and get appropriate treatment.”
However, Lorenzen, the mental health counselor, urged people of all ages to be familiar with social media.
“There are some really great people out there who are credited with knowing what they’re talking about,” she said.
However, on the flip side, there may be an unqualified influencer who “just wants to talk about depression”.
She explained that there’s a whole lot of information out there, and sometimes people don’t know how to filter that information.
In the digital age, it’s easy for anyone to create compelling media, which can make it hard to tell if the information is credible, according to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that provides resources for digital media literacy education. Thinking critically, determining if a social post is intended to be persuasive and getting to know the influencer’s goal or point of view can help social media users process good information better than bad.
Lorenzen also encourages individuals to not only think about what they read online but listen to their inner workings and build a relationship with their emotions.
“[With] All this information flowing in, not paying attention to what’s going on internally means we’ve lost some information. “Our bodies and brains work together for our good — even if it seems strange.”
Alexei Zollinger wrote this story as a journalism student at Salt Lake Community College. Published as part of a new collaborative Including Nonprofit Amplify Utah I asked the Lake Tribune.