Mental Health and Social Media

Mental Health and Social Media fig strip


Academic Team:
Heather Leonard (
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Laila Rouse (
FIG Assistant

9 credits
UGST 109 First Year Experience Seminar – 1 Credit 
CRN: 16268: M: 4:00pm- 4:50pm, TBA 
PSY202Z Intro to Psychology – 4 credits 
CRN: 14679: TR: 10:00am- 11:50am, STB 156, +LAB CRN: 16349: W: 3:00pm- 3:50pm, STB 251 
JCOM201 Media and Society – 4 credits
CRN: 16747: TR: 2:00pm- 3:20pm, LIL282 
About the FIG:

The Mental Health and Social Media FIG was created for child behavioral health pre-majors, or those interested in exploring the major or related majors. 

Did you know:  

  • Over 95% of young adults and teens have smartphones 
  • Half of these individuals report being online almost constantly 
  • Over 80% use social media regularly (over 50% use it at least several times per hour) 

Growing up in today’s world requires navigating the online world of social media. And as social media has a complex interrelationship with mental health, this FIG aims to examine how social media use and mental health interact.    In this FIG, we will examine:  

  • Risks and rewards (pros and cons) of social media use 
  • The impact of social media use on psychological well-being 
  • How use of different social media platforms can impact mental health 
  • Development of social media literacy skills to become more informed and critical social media users and consumers 
  • The impact of positive portrayals of mental health disorders in the media 
  • Social media's role in creating and exacerbating misconceptions related to mental health disorders and treatment  
  • How social media can improve mental health awareness and challenge negative stereotypes 

Supplemental courses: In PSY 202 (Mind and Society), students will develop an understanding of typical human functioning and mental illness. They will also examine the many contextual factors that influence mental health and contribute to the onset of mental health problems. This course is supplemented by J 201 (Media and Society), in which FIG members will explore some of the ways that the media reflect and form our culture and be introduced to the basic skills necessary for critical knowledge and examination of media. 

Intro to Psychology II - CoreEd or major satisfying course

Psychology is the systematic study of experience and behavior -- how we think, feel, and act. This course introduces psychology by considering many of the sources of influence that produce the variations and commonalities we see in human psychology. The scope includes topics relevant both to the understanding of "normal" human functioning and to mental illness. Mental illness is an important part of psychology, but many of the influences on the mind that produce mental illness are at play in mentally healthy minds too. Topics covered in this course include:

Development - Over time, how do the physical and cognitive changes that occur in humans affect their abilities, activities, and emotions, and how are these changes similar or different to those that occur in other species? Events and influences at one point in time can predict outcomes later in life.

Personality - Our behavior often reflects stable and enduring traits that make us uniquely us. Some of these traits we are born with, others are encouraged by our environments, and some reflect the interplay of both nature and nurture.

Social influence - Human behavior rarely occurs in isolation. Much of what we do everyday involves coordination and communication with the rest of the "pack," concern about how other people regard us, and a desire to influence others' behavior.

The course takes a research-based approach to psychology, considering at every step along the way how psychologists can best empirically test their theories and add new knowledge about human behavior. Students are given a chance to hone their own observation skills, to develop and test hypotheses, and to become critical consumers of research findings.

JCOM 201 Making Sense of Media - CoreEd or major satisfying course

Nearly every facet of human life today—work, play, study, relationships, and more—involves media. This course examines how this came to be, why it matters that media are so thoroughly infused in our lives individually and collectively, and how we can become more thoughtful and engaged media consumers and creators. Making sense of media means grappling with the social, cultural, economic, interpersonal, and political implications of this current moment: one in which people have increasingly expansive and near-instantaneous access to an abundance of information—social media, entertainment, games, news, and more—in a way that is unprecedented in the history of communication technologies. Media consumption has been transformed, but so has media production: People can create and disseminate their own content, receive and share files, and closely monitor the activities of friends and others. At the same time, networked communication platforms have forged new relationships between institutions and individuals and between social movements, states, and corporations. Over the course of the term, we will explore some key transformations in media over the past century, paying close attention to the interplay of meaning and power and the way media contributes to both shaping our identities and facilitating self-expression. We will also explore the rise and development of media professions, and examine some of the central tensions in the media world today: How can we tell whom or what to trust via media? What does verification look like in a world of fakes and misinformation? And how can we avoid being fooled by the use of numbers, data, and visualizations? In all, this course will equip students with a foundation in media literacy for the 21st century.

Meet your Instructor and FIG Assistant!