How has social media affected mental health during the pandemic?

On a global scale, social media can be a way for people to gather information, share ideas, and reach out to others facing similar challenges. It can also be an effective platform to relay information quickly during a national or worldwide crisis.

This global reach is what has made social media a critical communication platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As government health organizations used it to relay recent findings on prevention and treatment, social media became more than a place to post the latest vacation photos — it became a hub of pandemic-related information.

The current state of mental health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions are on the rise. Data show that around 20%Trusted Source of children and adolescents worldwide live with a mental health condition.

Moreover, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15–29-year-olds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source found that of the adults surveyed in the United States:

  • 31% reported symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • 13% reported having started or increased substance use
  • 26% reported experiencing stress-related symptoms
  • 11% reported having suicidal thoughts

Further research Trusted Source suggests that pandemic-related mental health challenges have impacted people differently, with some racial and ethnic groups disproportionately affected by pandemic stress.

In particular, Hispanic adults reported experiencing the highest level of psychosocial stress with food shortages and insecure housing at the start of the pandemic.

Impact of public health crises on mental health

A research report published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that there is an association between pandemic threats and extensive anxiety and concern among the public.

Scientists explain that some anxiety about personal safety and health during a widespread disease outbreak can help promote healthy behavior, including hand-washing and social distancing.

However, in some people, anxiety can become overwhelming and cause harm.