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Those struggling with mental health say social media can be a trigger, especially in the pandemic

social media mental health
Posted at 1:56 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2022-01-03 11:32:49-05

Social media is meant to be where we are always connected, but away from her screen, Danielle Konsky says she was in a far lonelier place.

"Posting a picture and maybe not getting the number of likes you wanted and taking it out on your body," Konsky explained.

Konsky was in high school when she first started to struggle with an eating disorder, but it reached the most critical point in college.

“I was limiting my food intake. I was comparing to girls I was friends with," Konsky said. “I was 82 pounds when my mom was like, ‘You know, that's not healthy. That's not normal.’”

Konsky says for her, social media was a trigger.

"I think a huge thing for me was the opinion of males and if they liked my pictures, and they Snapchatted me what that meant about me," she recalled.

“There seems to be such a need on our helpline to have support for young people who have been home during the pandemic, very isolated, in their homes, and focused on social media," said Lynn Slawsky of ANAD.

The organization’s helpline connects people struggling, like Konsky, with resources. The organization also organizes support groups, in hopes of helping the estimated 30 million Americans with an eating disorder.

ANAD's toll-free helpline can be reached at (888) 375-7767.

“This isn’t going to go away. The certain ‘put your phone down’ approach isn’t going to help necessarily," said Annie Margaret, who teaches faculty at the ATLAS Institute and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Margaret is searching for a better way to introduce young people to life online.

In the summer of 2022, she will be hosting a digital wellness program for students between 11 and 18 years old. She says students who are older are often already hooked.

Social media platform leaders say they’re working on features to protect users who may be struggling with issues of body image. One of those ways includes you can now choose to hide likes on your Instagram account.

“That’s been helpful for me, and seeing others who put the like count off because it really just shows why it is there to begin with. What do likes mean and what is the attainable number for that?” Konsky said.

There is no perfect manual to parenting, especially when it comes to social media.

“I try to educate myself a lot because I am Danielle's source of comfort," said Konsky's mother, Michelle.

Konsky says she’s worked with therapists and nutritionists to get to a healthier place today.

“I think I always wanted to be a helper before my struggles, and experiencing that and coming out of it, I feel like a purpose to do that," Konsky said.

Konsky is now studying at Columbia University in New York to become a mental health counselor and wants to help others struggling in a world where social connection is often searched for online.