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Protect your mental health online on Safer Internet Day

On February 6, Canadians are recognizing Safer Internet Day – a day dedicated to promoting safer and more responsible use of the internet. CMHA Ottawa wants to remind individuals, organizations and community about strategies for using technologies that can protect and benefit our mental health and avoid dependencies.

In particular, social media has been shown to have an impact on mental health, with excessive scrolling affecting mood, motivation and concentration. Research shows that constantly checking social media sites can increase feelings of inadequacy and depression, as well as anxiety around the fear of missing out.

To maintain healthy online habits, set boundaries around internet use and practice mindfulness in the digital space. For example, choose apps and platforms that fit with your goals and contribute to positive behaviours. Participate in virtual communities that are supportive and provide insight into people, events or areas that interest you offline.

Here are some more ideas to protect your mental health online:

Take a break from the internet: Research shows that taking breaks from social media and other forms of technology increases feelings of subjective well-being.

Address cyber-bullying: Your social media profile should be a safe space. Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying on your social media channels and do not be afraid to block and report any kind of harassment directed at yourself or others. Take screenshots of harassment and if someone threatens your safety or shares sexual pictures or videos of you, report it to the police immediately.

Join supportive online communities: The internet can also be a positive space for individuals struggling with mental health or addiction issues. CMHA offers online resources and connections that help develop a sense of community for those seeking help and who are looking for safe and supportive online spaces for mental health and addiction discussions.

For more online safety resources, visit www.saferinternetday.org/in-your-country/canada.

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