With more and more people opening up about their mental health online, you may find yourself thinking about a few things. You may feel proud of them for opening up about their struggles on a large platform, or you might feel comforted and feel less alone that someone you know also has struggles with their mental health. You might think about how social media is helping reduce the stigma about mental illness by giving many the opportunity to write about what they’re going through too.
And depending on what they’re opening up about, you may feel concerned for them. You might recognize and relate to the stuff that that person is writing, and know how terrible those feelings can be. You may also feel like they’re using wording that is alarming to you. But it’s already easy to overanalyze our every interaction and potential interaction when using social media already, so how do you reach out to someone to check in on them if you’re worried about them?
Unfortunately, most people are less likely to engage with negative posts, and are less likely to reach out because of the bystander effect (where they think that someone else is going to talk to that person, so they don’t need to). However, one of the best ways to approach these kinds of situations is to think about what you want people to do if you ever expressed that you’re struggling with your mental health. What do you want them to say? How would you want them to say it? What don’t you want them to say?
It may also feel awkward publicly commenting on someone’s post, especially if you aren’t close with them. Reaching out privately can go a long way – you don’t have to have a full conversation, but even just sending a DM expressing support and telling them that you hope things get better for them soon can have a powerful impact. If you’re comfortable, you can also tell them that you relate to what they’re going through so they feel less alone.
In more severe cases, it’s best to find someone close to that person and reach out to them to let them know that you’re concerned. Most social media sites also allow you to flag that post and report it stating that you think that person might be in harm.
Have you ever reached out to someone online after seeing something they posted that worried you? Were you close to that person? Would you reach out to someone on social media if they talked about their mental health?