Seven ways social media can have a positive impact on your health

While it has plenty of downsides, it is believed it also has benefits for wellbeing

Facebook uses algorithms to detect signs of distress in users' posts and comments and has developed tools that allow friends to report concerning posts. File photo.
Facebook uses algorithms to detect signs of distress in users' posts and comments and has developed tools that allow friends to report concerning posts. File photo.
Image: Dado Ruvic

It's nothing new that social media has greatly affected the mental health of its users, young and old. Whether it's low self-esteem or cyberbullying, the negative attention social media gets has become common knowledge, but can it have positive outcomes on one's mental wellbeing?

We hear from experts at Fedhealth to understand how social media can be used constructively for health benefits. 

1. Easy access to experts

Before the days of social media, getting information from an expert usually involved scheduling a consultation, which you’d have to pay for. Thanks to health professionals, including medical doctors, psychologists and nutritionists on social media, you can access a wide range of expert insights and information for free.

As well as sharing advice on managing health conditions and improving wellbeing, many practitioners let you schedule virtual consultations with them if you want more in-depth help and aren't in the same geographical location.

2. Improved motivation and goal setting

Staying healthy is about consistency. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, community fitness apps such as Strava can be highly effective for setting goals and getting community support to reach them, whether it’s doing a couch to 5km running programme or a 30-day yoga challenge.

Committing to an ongoing healthy lifestyle also has knock-on effects, such as saving you money and lowering medical expenses. You can also join a flexible medical aid such as Fedhealth’s flexiFED range of plans, where you only pay for the benefits you need.  

3. Community building

Beyond the health community, social media’s most significant advantage is its ability to connect people with common interests, globally and locally. From a health perspective, having a community you can tap into that has similar health issues, challenges or goals can feel highly supportive and make the issues you’re dealing with feel less overwhelming. Having a sense of belonging can help boost morale and motivation that you may not ordinarily have in your immediate community.  

4. Spreading awareness

Few channels are as effective as social media at reaching a wide audience quickly when it comes to spreading awareness about health issues. Particularly when it comes to fundraising for charities or raising awareness about illnesses or conditions, social media can help generate interest within the community with tangible results, such as people committing to donations or registering for an event.

Thanks to the immediacy of social media platforms, updates and information about an event can be spread quickly and efficiently throughout the community.  

5. An educational tool

From learning about gut/brain connection to knowing the dangers of pesticides in our food, we’re becoming more savvy consumers thanks to the availability of health information spread across social media. Of course, the caveat is to be sure the information you’re consuming is trustworthy and backed by reputable sources. Is it coming from a medical doctor, registered dietitian or industry expert?

When it comes to buying health products such as supplements and exercise equipment, or signing up for an online exercise subscription, honest consumer reviews and recommendations on social media mean we’re able to make more empowered buying decisions.  

6. Encouraging healthy behaviour

If you’re resistant to paying for a personal trainer, gym membership or life coach, social media has a wealth of resources you can access at minimal or no cost. Think HIIT workouts on YouTube, private yoga classes on Facebook or a daily motivational quote on Instagram. All allow you to dip your toe into different areas of health and wellbeing. In this way you can try them and see if you like them before committing and then losing interest within a few months.   

7. Crisis support

In an emergency, social media can help people find the resources they need quickly, such as having access to direct links to mental health resources via Messenger and chat services. Social media platforms such as Facebook use algorithms to detect signs of distress in users' posts and comments and have developed tools that allow friends to report concerning posts. The platform provides the distressed user options to connect with mental health resources or a trusted friend.  


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