Could it make my mental health worse?
While being online can be helpful for your mental health, there might be times when using online tools could have a negative impact on your mental health.
- Comparing yourself to others. Spending time on online communities and social media sites can mean that you end up comparing yourself to others. This can negatively impact your self-esteem and how you view your life. If you find this happening to you, you could try limiting the amount of time you spend on these sites. You could also try taking a longer break from any sites you find unhelpful.
- Feeling anxious or stressed. You might feel pressure to be constantly checking your social media accounts and taking part in online conversations, which can cause feelings of anxiety and stress. Comparing your life to others on social media can also mean you feel anxious and stressed.
- Difficulty sleeping. For some people, spending lots of time at night checking social media and other online sites disrupts their sleeping pattern. Some studies suggest stopping checking your phone at 10pm to give you time to unwind before going to bed. (See our information on sleep problems for tips on coping with sleep problems.)
- Feeling lonely. Some people find using online communities and social media a lonely experience as it doesn't give them the same feeling of connection as offline support. If you find you are feeling lonely while using these sites, you could try connecting with people offline. For example, you could join a face-to-face peer support group. (See tabs on online relationships and online / offline balance for more information.)
- Feeling overwhelmed. Being a friend to other people online can feel great, but caring for someone who's going through a difficult time can also be very stressful and overwhelming, and could affect your own wellbeing. (See our pages on managing stress and supporting someone else for tips.)
To try and avoid some of these issues, it might be a good idea to put some thought into what type of online tool is best for you right now, and to think about issues like safety & privacy, online relationships, and online / offline balance.
What offline support could I get?
Sometimes online support can't realistically give us all the help we want. If you find that things are becoming too much for you to cope with, or are worried about the way you are feeling or behaving, you may want to get additional support offline. You can:
(See our page on useful contacts for other organisations that might be able to help.)
This information was published in September 2018 - to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.