Pro: Social media provides sense of community, open-mindedness


Trisha Atluri

Social media is widely used by teenagers. The Sidekick student life editor Victoria Hertel discusses the ability of social media to increase awareness around mental health issues and strengthen long distance relationships.

Victoria Hertel, Student Life Editor

A teenager drowning in schoolwork, perhaps not having many friends at school or having a hard time with family, clicks on her iPhone as she dumps her hefty backpack onto her bedroom floor. 

She gathers her thoughts and lets out the stress of the day with a deep sigh as she gets a notification from her online friend, finally at home. 

Social media can serve as a platform for spreading awareness of mental illness and provides access to communities with others who have shared interests. 

“Social media provides a platform to connect with other people that they might not otherwise be able to connect to, if they live somewhere else or can’t find friends at school that like the same things that they do,” Coppell High School lead counselor Ann Cinelli said.

In addition, social media can serve as a platform for people to find emotional relief and opportunities to be educated about mental health. Co-founder of Coppell Counseling Inc. Kimberly Hatley is a member of several Facebook groups with other mental health professionals to share resources with her clients.

“People don’t feel as alone,” Hatley said. “If someone is vulnerable and talks about their issues, problems, fears, concerns and they share them on social media, the people that read them realize that they’re not suffering by themselves. That’s one of the best things that social media can do – tell people that they belong to a larger group of people who might suffer from the same thing.”

CHS students are spreading mental health awareness through their own social media accounts.

CHS senior Neha Bodanki and 2020 graduates Samhita Tadi, Sanjonaa Rudrarajuvenkata and Shradda Uppu created the social media account @the_green_ribbon last year. Bodanki, Tadi, Rudrarajuvenkata and Uppu post digital posters and hosted a fundraiser which went towards the creation and distribution of mental health awareness bracelets.The account was created to spread mental health awareness after Uppu’s friend’s attempt at suicide.

“Most people know that mental illnesses exist, but many are unaware of how to help themselves or other people with these illnesses,” Bodanki said. “This lack of awareness prompted us to share awareness. There are so many misconceptions about what mental health and illness is, people think it’s a bad thing, but we need to break down that stigma. Just saying illness makes people shy away from the topic, but it needs to be talked about.”

Bodanki is able to connect with a larger audience through social media than what she is able to do in person. Awareness needs to be spread on social media so more people know that mental illness is normal. Everyone will likely endure some type of mental illness sometime in their lives.

Likewise, New Tech sophomore Trinity Khuc regularly re-posts mental health awareness accounts on her Instagram story. With a mom as a psychologist at Cognitive Revival, Khuc remains well informed about mental health.

Khuc has interacted with other users, connecting using direct messaging. Followers have messaged Khuc thanking her for calling attention to certain issues or how they were informed by her posts. 

“I keep my DMs open,” Khuc said. “I’m trying to be someone who listens to other people [and] talk to people if they need it, even if they’re strangers. Someone has talked to me about self harm before and having someone there to listen is really important for your mental health.”

Many times, people who are struggling with their mental health may be uncomfortable with the idea of being vulnerable around people who know them and would rather talk to someone online.

“A lot of my friends didn’t know they had depression until they saw someone post about it, and so they went to go get help,” Khuc said. “It helps you understand better if you’re going through something or maybe someone you know is going through something because if you spend a lot of time on social media and you come across some of these posts talking about it, you recognize some of the things you are seeing.”

Social media provides people with a community, a family. People who might feel alone in their day-to-day life may be able to connect with  others and find solace in an online community. It is important to share content on social media that spreads awareness and positivity. 

Follow Victoria (@veh37936) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.