Do they like me?
The importance of mental health in our modern society
Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels
by Chloe Mackay
The pressure society brings to the human race has been a very important topic for a long time, with its value growing immensely over the last few years. It has sparked the conversation for mental health and how we are affected by everything society puts on us. This pressure can feel similar to having heavy weights on your shoulders, constantly pushing you down. I can almost guarantee that the typical university student has the same early morning routine as I do before getting ready for a lecture: it’s 8am and the alarm is ringing. We turn it off and automatically, the first thing we do is check our phones. Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Sound familiar? Me too. I usually do this for about 20 minutes every morning and each time, I see the same things. The same ads are being thrown my way: “use this and you could lose a stone in 2 weeks”, “buy this cream to achieve the perfect skin”, “have you tried this low-calorie drink?”. And most commonly, before-and-after photos. These ads and the influencers promoting them are trying to convince us that we aren’t good enough, that we need to change. Social media has been criticised immensely due to releasing content of unrealistic lifestyles to young children and teens. These looks are idealised and can have later impacts on life.
Within an evolutionary world and a modern society, it’s easy to understand why the human population can never be fully satisfied with the body they are in or the life they live. With the rate at which social media is growing, the need to be yourself is slowly decreasing. If you’re like me and visit social media apps often, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that society wants us to fit into the perfect model.
We are constantly pretending to be someone we aren’t by posting only the best photos with the best captions to persuade our viewers and followers that we are living a life everyone should want, when in reality, there may be more bad days than good. But you’ll never get to see that side of the story.
We are so hung up on the likes and views that we forget about what is really important - our health and wellbeing. Again, if you’re similar to me, likes are important to you and have almost consumed your media life. For instance, if my posts don’t achieve a certain amount of likes in a certain number of minutes, I’ll delete and repost later in hope that people don’t notice and the post will gain more interaction.
Because without likes, who am I? Society has led us to believe the number of likes determines our worth, and that the person we are isn’t good enough.
That we must put on a facade to mask our private despair. It forces us to hide our struggles and distress towards daily tasks. Society wants us to hide the ‘flaws’ underneath by making us feel like we are attending a masquerade ball with a new costume each day. And what happens when people don’t fit into this category society has created for us? What happens when we aren’t the perfect size or have the perfect skin? Society criticises us. We become un-beneficial to our community.
After interviewing some students of different levels, I noticed that many people feel the same way. Chloe, 19, told me that “I feel pressured to fit into a mould I wasn’t made for”, while Elroy, 16, opened up about his experiences with social media, stating that he “feels insecure on Instagram”. Lastly, Megan, 19, expressed that she “feels victimised”. These quotes alone show the pressures faced by young people in a modern-day society. In addition, mental health is criticised vastly due to people not believing or listening, which makes it a lot harder for people to speak out. And for those who do, waiting lists can be months long when emergency attention is needed then and there. Mental health, for as long as can be remembered, has never been seen as important as physical health. Society needs to recognize mental health and mental illnesses as highly important so people can receive the treatment they require. One of the things I have learned from dealing with people with mental health issues is that there is no distinction between the two – both are important and it’s crazy to think that people cannot see this. Society needs to stop viewing the people who suffer from these issues as crazy when they deserve the same rights as everyone else. A person is not defined by their illness. A change needs to be made, and although this change will be hard, it is still very likely to happen.
With 2019 nearing its end, our new year’s resolution should be to not let the voices of society win and take over. We should become more open-minded and understanding towards others. With an unclear definition of what mental health is, society’s perception of mental health needs to change.
We must show that we are stronger than ever before. Break the mould. Listen to your peers, family, and strangers. You never know the struggle people are facing due to social pressures.
If nothing else, from reading this article, you should try to increase your knowledge on the matter. And one way you can do this is by listening to others.