Connecting to Social Media, Disconnecting from Mental Health?

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Loneliness has been perceived as a problem that mostly affects older populations. However, a new Cigna study found that Americans, as a whole, are feeling lonely, with adolescents and young adults reporting the highest rates of loneliness.

So what’s behind this wave of isolation? While some people blame the younger generations’ fixation on social media, the current evidence is inconclusive, in part because social media has only recently become prominent, making it difficult to study its long-term effects.

What is certain is a lack of face-to-face interactions is connected to people’s feelings of loneliness.

Teens today spend more time with media than anything else in their lives. Even when they are spending time with other people, many are still using their phones. And studies have shown the more time someone spends on social media platforms and the more social sites they visit, the more likely they identify themselves as socially isolated.

Passively spending time on these platforms and not engaging with others online can also result in feelings of isolation.

A’nna Jurich serves as executive director of Gateway Carbondale, which offers a program for self-esteem-related issues among adolescent girls. Jurich runs through some of the online trends associated with loneliness and mental health:

Cyberbullying

The rise of social media has raised with it concerns about online bullying. According to research, cyberbullying is often related to low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, frustration, and other emotional problems. Bullying can be dangerous, especially for adolescents who are undergoing a lot of change, and ongoing.

“There are a couple of issues with the social media trend for adolescents: one is that they do not have the ability to disengage from all of the input from others, be it peers or media,” Jurich elaborates. “For example, if they are being bullied at school, they go home and log in and, often, the torment continues. They don’t have that period of afternoon and overnight to process and disengage from the negative messages.”

The Comparison Trap

Social media is a highlight reel and no one sees the daily behind-the-scenes; however, it can be difficult to keep that in mind while scrolling through endless photographs and videos everyday.

“Much of what is on social media is not always reality, so kids are often feeling that they need to live up to other’s perfect life experiences or appearances,” Jurich says. “They don’t see the everyday stuff, just the fabulous, and it puts a lot of pressure on them.”

FOMO

Also weighing on today’s younger generations is the fear of missing out on things, also known as “FOMO.” Many people’s moods shift after seeing their friends via social media having a good time while they aren’t. This trend is particularly common in adolescents and young adults, and it can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Online Community

Although social media facilitate certain issues, good can also come from these platforms.

“I think that social media could be a great way to reach kids who are isolated with symptoms of mental health by educating and starting positive conversations,” Jurich says. “Many of them would be more willing to say something online than they are in person. So hearing others’ stories and even sharing their own in that venue could be less intimidating and help them to reach out when they need it.”

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Substance Abuse And Mental Health Issues

drug abuse treatment carbondale

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Carbondale, IL

For men and teens with dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide the kind of experience and knowledge needed to help them get life back on track. Our Carbondale center has expertise in integrated treatment, which means our clinical professionals treat both issues—addiction and mental health—at the same time, in the same program, by the same clinical team. Research supports that integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders is the most effective approach— more so than concurrent or sequential treatment models—and decreases one’s chances for relapse.

In addition to understanding the impact of mental illness and addiction issues on them and their loved ones, men and teens with co-occurring disorders will learn
how to:

  • Manage their condition and unique circumstances with a healthy lifestyle and prescribed medications.
  • Regulate their emotions using techniques like mindfulness.
  • Nurture gratifying relationships by improving communication and coping skills.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
Often times people abuse alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape their distressing thoughts and painful feelings created by an underlying mental health concern. In fact, it’s more common than not for people with a substance abuse problem to also have a mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. When someone has both issues it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder.

For lasting recovery, it’s extremely important for people with co-occurring disorders to take the necessary measures to manage both concerns. That’s because untreated mental health problems increase the likelihood for substance relapse.

SPECIALIZED DRUG TREATMENT FOR MEN

The Men’s Residential Co-Occurring Treatment Program caters to the unique challenges confronting men who struggle with co-occurring disorders. With increased staffing ratios, our clinical team seamlessly addresses the intricacies involved with co-occurring disorders, such as medication management,
behavior modification therapy and post-treatment recovery planning.

Grounded in Gateway’s empowering treatment philosophy, men in this program get the responsiveness they need in order to thoroughly understand substance abuse as well as their mental health diagnoses. While treatment is personalized based on individual needs, men in drug treatment experience enhanced self-awareness and improved coping/social skills through classroom work, individual counseling and group therapy. Activities in group may include tasks like recreating a negative experience with a positive outcome and/or practicing difficult conversations in a safe environment. When the time is right, men can invite their loved ones to family counseling sessions where problems may be addressed through honest yet respectful dialogue moderated by solution-seeking counselors.

ENHANCED CARE FOR TEENS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

Gateway’s Carbondale center has the specialized expertise to instill in teens the tools and knowledge needed to manage their addiction and mental health concerns on an on-going basis. In fact, both our Male and our Female Adolescent Residential Programs at Carbondale have been independently rated as Dual-Diagnosis Capable (DDC) to Dual-Diagnosis Enhanced (DDE). This esteemed designation underscores the expertise of Carbondale’s clinical team and the organization’s dedication to evolving treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.

For more information about the Co-Occurring Treatment program for Men and Teens at Gateway Carbondale, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

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