SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- For many people, social media is the main source of interaction while social distancing.

Western Mass News found answers on whether these digital platforms are helping or hurting people’s mental health.

“I think our dependence on social media for better or for worse has increased tenfold since COVID-19,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president of resource developing and branding at the Mental Health Association in Springfield.

Western Mass News asked if this form of interaction is helping or hurting mental health.

“I’m sure people during this time of insulation and social distancing are really turning to those mediums or mechanisms they have available to them in order to feel some form of connectivity with others in the community,” Lee said.

Lee told Western Mass News that during this time of distancing, social media can play a positive role in bringing us together.

“It really is physical distancing, really not social distancing. So social media is just that -- social media. It’s an opportunity for us to stay connected, stay informed,” she explained.

Lee said the impact of digital platforms on our mental health is dependent on what kind of media is chosen to consume.

“Filter through what’s on social media, and tend to be directed towards the positivity versus the negative and the alarmist posted that are not emotionally healthy,” she noted.

She said a good rule of thumb to follow is watching how it provokes verses calms anxiety.

“Here at the Mental Health Association we refer to something which is TGK. ‘T’ meaning turn off. The ‘G’ is to go beyond the headline. Really look beyond the attention-getting headline on a Facebook post or Twitter or Instagram. And ‘K’ -- know what is your source. Is it a reputable source? Someone you trust,” Lee explained.

With that easy acronym, they believe people will be able to better control what social media is consumed and how it’s impacting mental health.

“We don’t want people to be isolated in the sense that they don’t have a positive connection with other people. So social media can be a very positive medium in order to keep that connectivity,” Lee said.

Copyright 2020.  Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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