Due to the coronavirus, social media use has increased as a result of social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines. However, according to Help Guide, social media can be linked to feelings of inadequacy, isolation, depression, anxiety, cyberbullying and self-absorption.
To combat these negative effects, one individual has created a resource to help students at Texas A&M and turn social media use into a positive experience.
Public health sophomore Saahil Sadwani took it upon himself to make that change. He created the Instagram page Student Wellness Initiative to encourage others to stay positive and get help during this abnormal time.
“You kind of realize that there’s a lot of negativity on social media because of this pandemic,” Sadwani said. “Due to this negativity, there’s a wave of students who feel disconnected amid this pandemic, so I made this Instagram page.”
The Student Wellness Initiative continues to encourage the community by posting daily challenges every week and reposting others’ accomplishments on their Instagram story.
“We started by doing challenges on Instagram, like daily challenges that people can post on their stories,” Sadwani said. “Sort of like ‘listen to this album, call someone and tell them you love them,’ or stuff like that to make them feel connected.”
Sadwani emphasized the importance of feeling connected to the community while staying home.
“You can just go through our stories and you can feel like you belong to an online community and you can allow yourself to feel connected, yet safe at home,” Sadwani said.
Biology sophomore Sanhita Anapu has picked up journaling as a way of keeping her mental health in check. Anapu is a Student Wellness Initiative follower and attempts to join in on the daily challenges.
“Over quarantine, I realized that mental health is actually really important,” Anapu said. “I have been keeping track of my mental health by journaling everyday... I try to swipe on the [Instagram] pictures, but any time I come across a post, I will think ‘Oh, I did end up doing that today.’ It will be unconscious.”
The Student Wellness Initiative has attempted to bring all the best aspects of social media together. When students find social distancing and life online to be a struggle, Sadwani said he hopes the Student Wellness Initiative can be a comfort.
The crisis text line is 741741. For those looking to help, the group is looking for more counselors. For more information, check out the Student Wellness Initiative website or @StudentWellnessInitiative on Instagram.