Almost a year ago, in May 2021, tennis player Naomi Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the upcoming French Open, due to issues concerning her mental health. Her withdrawal followed the organizers’ decision to fine her for declining to attend press conferences.
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Last week we discussed the complex relationship between athletes and social media vis-à-vis mental health. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable since their upbringing and reality are now fused with social media. The damage has been of such extent that there are teenagers out there who want to have surgery in order to adjust their looks to Instagram filters; an absurd sort of surrealism. Despite the obvious correlation between social media and mental health problems, social networking platforms are but one of the factors driving the current mental health epidemic. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t help either.
Social media are online platforms that help you connect with people from all over the world, upload family pictures and like your friends’ vacation photos. You can find people from all over the world who share your interests and follow your favourite athletes. There is, however, the flip side to all that which we’d rather not talk about that much; up until the moment it affects us. Bullying, body- shaming, hate, abuse, racism, sexism and a host of other -isms have crept their way into the day-to-day reality of social media.
Mental health has been at the forefront of discussions around the world for a while now, particularly because, according to the World Health Organisation, mental health conditions are on the rise, with possible contributing factors being the increasing use of social media and the COVID-19 pandemic.