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Why a psychologist encourages you to go on social media during COVID-19

Connecting with friends online is now more important than ever. ...

While self-isolation is vital for flattening the COVID-19 curve, the lack of social interactions can have devastating consequences on our wellbeing and mental health.

 

Social media connections. Photo: Shayma Abdellatif

The uncertainty that clouds our lives is causing stress and anxiety for almost everyone, however, Dr Harley Watson says that social media offers an antidote to relief some of this anxiety, and ensure our mental wellbeing is maintained.

“The biggest thing is to remember that you’re not alone in this. Everyone else is experiencing this too,” she says.

Dr Harley Watson is a clinical psychologist and the CEO of Open Parachute, an online school health program that raises awareness about mental health among teenagers and aims to reduce bullying in school.

Clinical psychologist and CEO of Open Parachute, Dr Harley Watson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media is the reality of this generation, and instead of denying that fact, Dr Watson said that we need to find ways to take advantage of what this reality offers. The key to interacting online is whether the experience is having a positive or a negative outcome on one’s wellbeing. Having a network of support, especially for young people, where they can have intimate conversations about their emotions and struggles, is now more important than ever.

“Reaching out online and staying connected to their friends and using social media to connect with them is really important for their mental health right now,” says Dr Watson.

Being online often may also mean being exposed to content that lowers self-esteem and confidence, which only adds to the problem. In order to avoid this, Dr Watson advises social media users to interact with friends in small private networks instead of sharing personal feelings and content publicly.

“When we share something with the whole world, we lose that personal feedback and personal interaction, and we open ourselves to any type of response including online bullying,” she says.

 

When asked about online challenges that appeared in the past months, Dr Watson says that if participating in those public challenges helps young people cope with this crisis, then that’s fine. Creating a sense community support and knowing that everyone is going through similar struggles is equally important. However, she says that every person needs to constantly reflect on any online interaction, and use their judgment to determine whether that’s beneficial or counter-productive.

     “Ultimately, we want the online world to connect us not separate us,” she says.

In a Snapchat survey, the majority of Snapchatters, 66 percent, said that communicating with friends and family online have helped them cope with the situation, and allowed them to still enjoy some quality time despite the COVID-19 restrictions. More than 71 percent said they have become more aware about how to stay safe, through the platform, since the beginning of the crisis.

Many social media platforms are playing an increasing role in proving information about ways to stay safe during COVID-19. In a press release, General Manager for Snap Inc. ANZ, Kathryn Carter, said that Snapchat is collaborating with local and international health experts to increase awareness about health among its users.

“Content on our Discover platform is curated and moderated, and we work closely with only a select set of partners, including some of the most trusted news organisations around the world, to develop fact-based content for our community,” says Ms Carter.

In partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Snapchat launched a series of filters and Bitmojis with information about hygiene and self-isolation, as well as links to local mental health support services.

 

If you need mental health support services, don’t hesitate to contact any of the following:

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The call for climate change

Free scoops of ice cream have been handed out to university students all across Australia this month, as Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Austra...

Free scoops of ice cream have been handed out to university students all across Australia this month, as Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) to speak to young Australians about climate action.

Ben & Jerry’s and the AYCC have teamed to speak to young Australians about climate action. Photo: Supplied.

Together they visited select university campuses in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, to encourage students to check they are enrolled to vote for this upcoming federal election.

“The desired outcome is to get as many young Australians enrolled to vote, because their vote can really make a difference,” said Kent Hildred, Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission Manager.

In the last election, an estimated 254,432 eligible 18-24 year-olds weren’t enrolled to vote, and with the most marginal seat having won by just 32 votes, the AYCC handed out free scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to make sure every vote counts.

“We really believe that the climate action policies are beyond urgent, it’s getting really desperate now,” said Hildred. “It’s more important than ever for these 18 to 24 year olds to really step up and get involved.”

According to a youth study by Vice in 2018, 43 percent young Australians are more concerned about the environment and climate change than any other global issue.

Just two weeks ago, nearly 30,000 students took the day off school to protest for lack of action against the climate change. The strike was led by a campaign to stop the Adani coal mine and all new fossil fuels, and to transition to 100 percent renewables by 2030.

Hildred says it’s important that the younger generation direct their attention to climate change and get educated, and to then make climate change action one of the number one considerations when they’re casting their vote in the next federal election.

Recent findings by the UN have found that there is only 11 years, or less, left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

Alex Pan, NSW School’s Coordinator, and volunteer for the AYCC, says young people are the ones that are going to be overwhelmingly affected by the effects of climate change.

“That’s why our current government needs to represent this, they need to reflect proper climate policy and care about our future,” said Pan.

Saturday May 11 is looking to be the most likely date for the 2019 federal election, the Australian reports.

Western fair at Western Sydney University’s Bankstown campus, featured a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cart, alongside the AYCC stall. Photo: Chanelle Mansour.

 

 

Written by Chanelle Mansour