Mental health issues don’t discriminate. Young or old, everyone you meet will have some experience with mental health issues, from depression to anxiety, whether personally or in close friends and family. Which is why it is so important to not only educate the youth, but also offer them platforms where they can discuss mental health issues openly and freely.
It’s difficult to imagine life before our personal and professional lives were so constantly “switched on” – we are now contactable and accessible every moment of the day. But the reality is that most teens don’t know a life before this behaviour was the norm. And this constant accessibility is a breeding ground for bullying and negative online behaviour.
But what if we could use social media for good, rather than to harm? To leave positive comments and spark good conversations rather than negative ones. To lift people up instead of bringing them down.
St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ flagship awareness-raising and education campaign, Walk in Your Shoes, is geared towards youth mental health. The #MindYourSelfie campaign returns on Friday March 13, inviting the public to post a selfie with the hashtag #MindYourSelfie to their social media profiles, sharing what they do to mind themselves. The aim is for as many people as possible to see and use the hashtag to raise awareness about the importance of looking after our mental health.
One ambassador of the #MindYourSelfie campaign is television presenter and host of new podcast Untold with B Treacy (which launches this week), Bláthnaid Treacy, who says she “jumped on the opportunity because it was focused on young people and encouraging them to spread positivity about mental health awareness.” What advice would Treacy give to young people finding social media to be a difficult space? “Know that you are in control of the people you follow – and the people who follow you. Feel free to block accounts and report them using Facebook and Instagram. And always tell a teacher or parent.”
What we all need to learn is that ultimately we have the power to create our own online space. In the same way that you stick your favourite posters or photographs on your bedroom wall, and only read books or watch TV shows that you actually like, it is vital to curate your social media channels in the same way. “Just say no to negativity,” says Treacy, “and only follow accounts that make you feel good about yourself.” Some of her personal favourites are @ROAM, for inspirational nature imagery, @animalsdoingfunnythings and @influencersinthewild, when she’s in need of a pick-me-up. “It’s also important to remember that nasty comments and messages online say a lot more about the person sending them than they do about you.”
So on Friday March 13, why not get involved with the #MindYourSelfie campaign and encourage the teens in your life to do the same by posting a selfie on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag and sharing how you mind yourself. For Treacy it’s, “getting out in nature, spending time with friends and family – especially my nieces and nephews – and the occasional Netflix binge.” How do you mind yourself?
Walk in My Shoes
Established in 2012, Walk in My Shoes is St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ flagship awareness-raising and education campaign, geared towards youth mental health. It runs many initiatives throughout the year to promote positive mental health, provides support and information in communities throughout Ireland, and offers free, downloadable information packs and resources to schools, colleges, workplaces and individuals. Visit www.walkinmyshoes.ie for more information.
Mental Health Support & Information Service
The Support & Information Service is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact the Support & Information Service by calling 01 249 3333, or email [email protected]
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