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Dr. Monica’s Corner: Excessively Seeking Validation On Social Media Might Be An Indication of Poor Mental Health

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Monica AlabiSocial media has changed the way we live; in particular, the way we interact with others. Our lives, while seemingly being more open for the world to view, have actually taken on more layers – burying our core even deeper.

A picture, they say, is more than a thousand words. I beg to differ; a picture sometimes says nothing at all. Apart from incessant postings, there is a darker side with mental health crises played out for the world to see and sadly makes for entertainment for some.

Learning to understand what makes people behave the way they do takes time and effort and in our 24/7 culture,who has that kind of time.

I remember a conversation about the incessant posting of every single life event on social media. I mean, from waking up, breakfast, family… you name it… by a certain person. This was causing some discomfort to some others (wetin consign you right?) The posts in themselves are not the issue; however, what drives this type of behaviour?

One could argue that it is vanity – just one of the four desires that drives human behaviour (the others are Acquisitiveness. Rivalry. Love of power).
The payment may be in the number of likes, new friend requests, follows or shares. On the other hand, it could be a sign of something more serious – a topic that we are generally uncomfortable with: poor mental health.

It may be a way of getting affirmation, validation or just some comfort. If your livelihood is dependent on posting your life’s activities, you’re exempt.

Seeking help for physical symptoms may be seen as more worthy than issues that cannot be seen.However,the impact of poor mental health on your physical health is significant.Anxiety and depression are the common ones discussed but there are many other health conditions that need urgent attention. As world mental health day approaches on the 10th of October, I ask that we all give it some thought.

One in four people will develop a mental health condition in their lifetime. It cannot be ignored.
It is one of the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide. I struggle to find any sound policy on mental health in Nigeria.
Other parts of the world also struggle to get optimal mental health policies but the wherewithal is there. In the UK, poor mental health is 60% more in black people than their white counterparts.

Until the government get their policies patient-focused, what can you do to keep your mental health in optimum condition?

  1. Exercise: Regular exercise can have immense positive impact on your mental health. It relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood.
  2. Screen yourself: If you suspect you may have a mood disorder like anxiety,depression,schizophrenia etc,there are a myriad of online screening and self help tools. Try this.
  3. Speak to a qualified health professional: I believe everyone should have a GP(General Practitioner). A GP is a doctor who has spent years specializing in knowing something about every aspect of your health.He/She can provide you with 90% of your health needs and refer you on the rest of the time.

If you suspect someone you know may be suffering, share this with them and you may be saving a life. Let us de-mystify and de-stigmatize mental health.

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