Mental Health Professionals

Aishwarya Pavan


Friendship Wrecks

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. While we are bound to our family by birth, the bond between friends are completely voluntary. Human beings are social animals and no matter how much we try, we will always crave support and affection from others. Having friends provides you with a sense of belonging, they are the people who will never treat you like an outcast. Friends are not only the people who you hang out with and do fun things with. The bond of friendship goes much deeper than that. Your friends influence you in more ways than you might like to think. The people you choose to spend your time with has a part in who you grow up to be. Dear reader, please do not take the previous statements as a challenge and try to prove us wrong by taking an oath to be lonely forever.

When you are going through a conflict, your friends act as a support system which keeps you going. Social support is so very important to us as human beings. People who have had close and healthy friendships in their teenage years are less likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders. Many of the people who seek help for these disorders often confess that they feel lonely almost all the time. These individuals feel like there are no one in the world that can talk to them or understand them. One of the symptoms of depression is social isolation. People struggling with anxiety disorders try to withdraw from society as well. The presence of your friends can help you reduce stress and get a broader perspective on life. Can you imagine a person who has no friends dealing with these problems? They are more likely to withdraw into themselves and live in misery since they don’t have a support system that tries to get them back into the world and back on their feet. This proves just how important and integral good friends are for your emotional wellbeing.

But are friendships these days really that strong and healthy? We don’t mean to sound ancient but, think about it. Any relationship, be it friendship or marriage, is only as good as the effort you put into it. People in the current times, especially younger ones are too preoccupied with social media to even look at the person sitting next to them and give them a smile. There are more and more people who would rather stay in bed watching TV or scrolling through their choice of social media platform every single weekend than meet their friends or family. Sorry to call you out dear introverts, but you have to stop faking an illness or a family emergency when your friends call you to hang out. You might find your friends a bit annoying, that’s okay. All we are asking from you is to try spending some time with them and actually put some effort into keeping in touch with them.

Body language matter alot when it comes to effective communication. We are not exaggerating or bluffing, communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. The non-verbal component is made up of body language (55 %) and tone of voice (38 %). So when you talk to friend via texts, your conversation is only 7% effective and the sense of mutual connection between people are lost. Also, why is it acceptable to end a chat by giving a thumbs up or a heart to their last statement? In our humble opinion, abolish this practise right now. A smile, a handshake, a hug, and the personal warm of a friend are all robbed from you when you just text your friend without making an effort to meet them. If you are going through a break up, a message from your social media friend saying “lol. Get over it” will never ever compare to your real life friend coming to your house bearing snacks and a shoulder to cry on.¬† Another trouble social media has brought into the forefront is petty behaviour. If your friend goes to a party/event without inviting you, cut them off. If your friend takes a picture with a person who you consider your arch nemesis, cut them off. If your friend posts some political opinions that you don’t agree with, cut them off. Stop cutting your friends off just because they disagree with you. This brings us to another trend we have been noticing, the prioritizing¬† of a social media friend who tends to agree with you on everything you say over your real life friend who has their own perspectives in life. Although it’s good to find friends that you have common things with, having a friend who thinks differently than you can actually help you. They can help you broaden your mind, teach you tolerance and acceptance. Trust us, your life would seem so much easier and happier if you have a couple of friends who would always be there for you.

All this being said, do not force yourself to hang out with someone who you can’t stand to be in the same room with. If their behaviour is toxic and they are someone who constantly tries to undermine you, it is okay to cut them off. If they try to pressure you into experiences that you are not comfortable with, make your refusal very clear. If they still keep pushing, leave and never go back. We do not claim that all friends are good friends. There will undoubtedly be many people who might want to use you or are just terrible friends. It’s okay to leave them in the past if you feel like their existence is a threat to your emotional and physical well being. By this we do not mean that all people are terrible, there are so many trustworthy people out there who would make wonderful friends. Just use your objective mind and be alert, that’s all.

The Rising Tides Of Psychological Problems

Before you read this, we recommend you to go on to any social media platform and see what Gen Z humour is like. You will notice that most of the jokes made by our younger generation is self-deprecating and often makes reference to their anxiety or depression. When posts or tweets with a joke like this goes viral and are liked by millions of young people, it means that they can relate to it on a personal level. Why? Because our younger ones are suffering. Even someone who lives under a rock would have noticed the growing number of suicide and self harm among teenagers and young adults. Parents are panicking, not knowing what to do when they see their precious children being tortured by mental illness. Most older people would tell you that the kids these days are just too weak and that is the reason for the rising cases of mental disorders. 

If you ask us for a clear cut answer, the only answer we can give you is that the research is still painfully lacking in this field. But what we can tell you for sure is that, without a doubt, mental illnesses are indeed rising on an alarming rate, especially in millennials and Gen Z. A study done by the National Institute Of Mental Health revealed that one in five youth are affected by at least one type of mental disorder. Keep in mind that this study was conducted in 2010, which means things must have gotten worse in 2020. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that the rates of serious psychological distress increased by 78% among adults aged 20-21 during the time period of 2008 to 2017. While we cannot tell you the exact reason for this obviously depressing phenomenon, we can still come up with some well informed speculations.

Most researchers believe the emergence of smart phones and social media platforms to be the reason for the rise of mental illnesses. This claim is very hard to invalidate. Using social media too much limits the time you spend with your real friends and family. It makes you sit down on a spot for a prolonged period of time and tempts you to neglect your exercise. It completely messes with your sleep patterns and leaves you feeling exhausted the whole day. When you do face some personal problems you realise that you dont have people to support you in real life and you thousands of online friends mean nothing. Therefore, you can begin to feel lonely and isolated. People who spend long periods of time on social media are mostly bombarded by two kinds of things: Bad news and filtered reality.

Let’s talk about bad news. Rasicm, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and the violence born out of this factors have always existed. But when you use social media these issues make themselves much more visible to you by the use of a single hashtag. From environmental issues to human rights issues, the younger generation is more aware about the ‘badness’ of the world compared to the older generation. From such a young age the children of today are made aware of the unfairness and the cruelties of the world which can effectively wipe out something called hope from their minds. Now let’s tak about the filtered reality. Everything you post on social media is the best version of yourself. The reality of your social media is just as edited as the profile pictures most people choose to share. But young impressionable minds would see a very attractive individual posting a picture of their perfectly sculpted and face tuned face on Instagram and spend the rest of their day resenting their ‘less attractive’ face and body. They would see the glimmering photos posted by their friends in their million dollar mansion and start to hate their ‘normal’ life. Social media in this case makes you feel like you are never enough, that everybody has a better life than you. This can make you feel worthless, helpless and you forget to appreciate the things you are blessed with in your life. 

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