It may come as no surprise that social media impacts mental health. After all, the worldwide average daily social media usage rate is 147 minutes per day — two to three hours — which means there are plenty of opportunities for it to affect your life. While it can be a great way to stay connected to friends across the world, it can also be detrimental to your self-esteem, no matter who you are. In fact, even model Hailey Bieber has felt the negative effects.
On the Sept. 28 episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast, the star revealed she had thoughts of suicidal ideation — suicidal thoughts and ideas — in the aftermath of receiving hate messages from people after marrying Justin Bieber back in 2018. (For context, six months earlier, he and Selena Gomez had ended their on-and-off relationship, leading to a flurry speculation and opinions about the Hailey and Justin’s coupling.) Bieber said things can get really dark "and you can start having thoughts of, like, it not being worth it anymore or not wanting to be here anymore, which I have had before in the past."
She went on to say sometimes she doesn’t think we can process [those thoughts] on our own because it can lead to a vicious cycle. “I do think sometimes you need to express it and you need to go to someone who is going to feel safe for you and support you in those thoughts, not make you feel like you're crazy or that you're wrong for feeling dark and deep and heavy,” she said.
Back in 2021, Bieber told Elle she stopped using Twitter — due to all the trolling she received — and shared about it in a vlog with psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Clemons. She said one of the hardest issues “was the comparison aspect of body comparison and looks comparison and behavior comparison” she dealt with since marrying Justin. “I think when you’re going through a situation where you just have so many people hounding you with the same thing over and over and over again, it starts to mess with your mind and then you start to question everything and you’re like, ‘Is there something that I’m not seeing that they see? Maybe they’re right.’ It got to such a low point to me that I was honestly like, ‘maybe I’m delusional!’”
She said even opening Twitter gave her “such bad anxiety,” so she deleted it. “I don’t even have a Twitter anymore because there was never really a time where I would go on there and it didn’t feel like it was a very toxic environment.”
For the sake of her mental health, she also decided to limit her time on other social media apps, she said in the Call Her Daddy podcast. With Instagram, for instance, she said she only looks at it on weekends and adjusted her settings so that only people she follows can leave comments on her posts. “When I look at my comments now, when I put up a photo or a video or anything, I know it's only going to be people that I know are only going to be positive and only going to be encouraging and uplifting.”
How Social Media Impacts Mental Health
Research, too, has found that the prolonged use of social networking sites can contribute to low self-esteem. Usage may also be correlated to signs and symptoms of depression. In addition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) noted how social media usage can lead to anxiety and isolation, plus other ill mental health effects, such as bullying and comparing oneself to others.
To help keep your mental health in check when it comes to social media platforms, NAMI suggests limiting your time on them, as well as carefully considering which accounts you follow — do they make you feel good or bad? And when it comes to posting comments, think about if you would say the comment in an in-person situation.
You can also do what Bieber did — delete a platform that’s not serving you in a positive way, and limit your social media usage to a set time or day. The key is prioritizing your mental health, no matter what. We definitely give a “like” to that.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).