In a world where we seek satisfaction from follower count and “likes,” more and more we hear people cautioning youth and adults alike to spend less time on their smartphones out of fear it’s negatively affecting their mental health. However, there are positive aspects social media can offer to people who feel isolated. As the school year gets back into full swing and teens are once again caught up in the stress and anxiety of classes and exams, here is some information you might want to share with your friends, family and children.
If you know any teens, then you know they predominantly communicate through text. Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone is Canada’s first 24/7, free, nationwide crisis texting service. It allows Canadian youth to connect with a volunteer Crisis Responder to confidentially text about any issue, big or small, in a way that they want to communicate. Since launching in fall 2018, there have been more than 100,000 texting conversations with young Canadians and more than six active rescues and lives saved each day.
Building online communities can also help alleviate perceived isolation and address mental health concerns. For example, Speakbox is a first-of-its-kind digital mental health service that pairs online peer support with secure digital journaling and access to a library of evidence-based activities that can help users manage their mental illness with physician-approved tactics. Its newest iteration will allow users to share information with their health care team that doesn’t require individuals to retell and relive their trauma over and over again.
The power of an online community goes beyond mental health. Groups of people living through specialized treatments congregate in online forums and discuss everything from clinical trials to side effects. Parents of children with diseases so rare that they are the only ones in their town, connect across borders to share, support and unite in their knowledge. It’s only through social media that this is possible, and it is a cost-effective and real-time way to seek, offer and share support.
“We often warn people to limit social media out of fear that it’s damaging their mental health. But with the right tools, connecting people to the right resources or community, it is extremely powerful and promotes empowerment, especially in extra stressful times like exam season,” says Michael Green, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. “This empowerment is at the heart of the ACCESS 2022 movement.”
ACCESS 2022 is a national movement for digital health bringing together the collective expertise of an agile technology sector, the knowledge base of health system experts, and insights and experiences of patients and caregivers, to ultimately meet and exceed the demands of Canadians in the 21st century. To learn more about ACCESS 2022 and join the movement, visit access2022.ca.