Earlier this week, the world witnessed something unusual: a global social media blackout, of sorts. On October the 4th, major social networking platforms Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp went ‘down’ for at least six hours, causing chaos and confusion for some, and feelings of uneasiness for others.
For many, social media has become the go-to hub for communication as well as the consumption of entertainment and information. And while it has several very apparent advantages and uses, it also has its fair share of cons. These cons can have a variety of roots—consumption of ‘unhealthy’ content, interactions with toxic social media users, and improper usage habits, to name a few.
But it’s not all bad! If used right, social media can be an invaluable source of information, a fun source of entertainment, and—if you follow the right people—even a tool to improve your well-being! Enter Divija Bhasin.
A psychologist, a digital content creator, and a ‘voice of change’, Divija Bhasin is making a significant difference in the social media realm. She uses Instagram as the medium to spread awareness on mental health, connecting with her followers by making light-hearted and relatable short videos around mental health. Through her content, Divija aims to make issues of mental well-being easy to understand for the masses.
On this year’s World Mental Health Day, we got in touch with Divija to know more about how she is using this platform to make a change in the world.
Your Instagram bio reads ‘Your friendly neighbourhood therapist’. Tell us about your journey towards this title.
I started my journey in school when I took psychology as a subject. Later, I did my BA in Psychology Hons from Ambedkar University and then MSc in Applied Clinical Psychology from the University of Bath.
I have always wanted to study it because my mum was really interested in it and would tell me about the books she had read. I had also seen a lot of people around me getting better because they sought professional help when they needed it. That’s when I decided that I want to be that person who can help people. I have also always been drawn to people and their stories. This profession helps me do that.
What are some of the key messages that you try to convey through the content you post on Instagram?
What I want to show people with my content is that it’s very important to always question the rules we have made in our society. Are they helpful? Are they causing harm? If they are, why are we still following them?
I don’t like to make regular mental health content where I am talking about depression or anxiety, but I like to touch upon topics that are the reasons why people get anxiety/depression. These are the things no one talks about, which is why so many people are unaware of how parenting, culture and family systems are deeply related to our mental health.
What are some of the major mental health myths that you often come across, especially in recent years?
One myth that a large chunk of the people believes in is that mental health problems are something that only happens to “weak” people. That’s not true! We all have ups and downs in our life. No one’s mental health is always good. We need to acknowledge that anyone of any gender, age and race can experience struggles with their mental health.
Your reels on mental health-related issues are really popular. What’s your creative process like, and how do you select topics that relate so well with the viewers?
I personally enjoy watching short-form content and whenever I’m watching it, I always get ideas automatically. I do need to watch it to get the ideas.
Sometimes I get them when I have conversations with people around me. If I notice that there is a pattern of similarity in conversations I have with many people, I know that it’ll be relatable and will resonate with a lot of people.
You often stress that mental health is more than just anxiety or stress. So, according to you, what encompasses the mental health paradigm? What aspects should we be talking about more?
There is so much we need to talk about when it comes to mental health. It’s our movies, parenting techniques, culture, sexism, and even our education system. All of these things (and more) affect our mental health and the effects are quite often negative.
We need to be open to all kinds of perspectives and not be stuck in our way of thinking because it can be detrimental to our mental health (and also others). Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it is right.
In this digital age, people, especially teenagers, are often influenced by social media feeds, affecting their self-esteem, confidence, and their mental health. How can we minimise this growing problem? Please share your thoughts.
I don’t think that social media is the problem. It’s the general upbringing of people. If a child had supportive and encouraging parents in their childhood they will not get too affected by social media.
On the other hand, children whose parents abused them, neglected them or were too strict, would grow up to have low self-esteem in general and social media would just act as one factor amongst many others that bring down their mental health.
Social media in itself is neutral. We are the ones that make it negative/positive for our mental health. For some, it might normalise body positivity; for others, it might create body image problems.
One way we could minimise these issues is to be more aware of good parenting techniques that lead to children that grow up to be resilient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions. What would be your message on how to deal with these trying times?
A few tips I would like to give out is to make sure you prioritise yourself. If the news is affecting you negatively, try not to watch it. If conversations about covid are getting overwhelming, you are allowed to talk about other things.
Focus more on things you can control rather than the things you can’t. For example, you can’t control the pandemic, but you can wear a mask to protect yourself. It’s also important to accept that you cannot control everything. You are doing the best you can.
Please share some quick tips that our readers can incorporate into their daily lives to keep their mental health up.
- Make sure to have small goals instead of big ones. It’s easier to complete them and feel good compared to having big unrealistic expectations.
- Make sure to take time off. Taking breaks is as important as working hard.
- Notice the things which give you joy and try to do them more often.
- Make sure to talk to your loved ones in case you aren’t doing well emotionally. Don’t keep it all inside.
Social media is tricky terrain, especially for influencers. Have you encountered any sort of hurtful trolls? If yes, then how did you deal with it?
I have often had people say really hurtful things to me. Sometimes I just ignore it but other times it’s hard to do that. I like to reply to them and say “that was really rude” and surprisingly they often delete their comment or apologise when I do that.
I think it’s because when they make hate comments they don’t realise there’s a real person on the other side of the screen.
I also like to use these hate comments as content. I might make a reel about it or put it in my story. This helps me lighten it up cause usually my followers end up making some jokes about it/laugh at how ridiculous the comments are.
On this World Mental Health Day, what would be your message to the readers?
The only message I have for the readers is that even though we just have one “World Mental Health Day”, we do need to pay attention to our mental health day every day. It’s not something that stops existing after this one day. We need to keep having conversations about it because, in the end, it is something that we all experience.
You can follow Divija Bhasin on Instagram.
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