College Students, Depression, and Social Media

“[T]he world I believe in is one where embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark. The world I believe in is one where we’re measured by our ability to overcome adversities, not avoid them. The world I believe in is one where I can look someone in the eye and say, ‘I’m going through hell,’ and they can look back at me and go, ‘Me too,’ and that’s okay.” ~ Kevin Breel

iStock_000055360022SmallMy post this week at Psychology Today, “Facebook 101: Smart Social Media for College Students,” addresses what role, if any, social media may play in depression among college students and, more important, what we can do about it. I began to think about the topic after reading Alan Schwarz’s New York Times piece “More College Freshmen Report Having Felt Depressed,” especially these paragraphs:

“Suzanne Ciechalski, a freshman at St. John’s University in Queens, said technology that might appear social in nature could in fact lead to stress and feelings of depression.

‘I feel like people spend a lot of time on social networks trying to create this picture of who they want to be,’ Ms. Ciechalski said. ‘Maintaining that takes a lot of effort. I feel like being a teenager or young adult, the pressure to try and make people see you’re the best is really high.'”

I see this pressure and anxiety every week in the college students I teach and am reminded of the poignant and powerful TED Talk by then 19-year-old Kevin Breel, which I have shared here before but is worth sharing again (and again):

“Would you rather make your next Facebook status say you’re having a tough time getting out of bed because you hurt your back or you’re having a tough time getting out of bed every morning because you’re depressed? That’s the stigma, because unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way.” ~ Kevin Breel

You can follow Kevin Breel on Twitter and Facebook.

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