Having a strong social network helps support your psychological health and keeps you mission ready. Feeling connected is especially important during tough times.
However, frequent moves and deployments can make it hard to maintain close relationships. Fortunately, positive social media use can help you keep up with friends and family, and get or give support when the going gets tough.
Positive Social Media Use
The following are positive ways you can use social media to support psychological health:
- Stay in touch with loved ones: This is especially important on deployment. Use social media to exchange updates. This can give you and your family a sense of comfort. It can also remind you to stay strong for those you care about.
- Find support during tough times: If you are struggling, you can use social media—like the Real Warriors App —to locate important psychological health resources. If you feel lonely or isolated, you can also connect with online support communities. Some of these communities, like the Real Warriors forums, include fellow service members who understand your experiences.
- Settle in a new location: Moves can be challenging for you and your family. Fortunately, using social media can help you learn about a new area. You can find entertainment and services, learn about community events and join social groups. This can help your family quickly find a sense of belonging.
- Stay up to date on base and unit information: Many installations and units have their own social media pages. These pages can help you learn about events, emergencies, deployments and more.
- Support fellow warriors: You may be the first line of support for fellow service members who are struggling. Share helpful resources on your social media profiles. Keep an eye out for posts that could mean a military brother or sister is struggling. Reach out to support them. Even sharing something sympathetic can let them know you have their back.
Social media can help you locate resources and connect with care. The social connections you forge can even help you cope during difficult times and support your recovery after traumatic events. However, social media is never a replacement for formal care. If you have psychological health concerns as a result of your military service or home life, talk to a psychological health care provider.
Connect with a provider by visiting your nearest military hospital or clinic. To locate care in your area use TRICARE’s hospital and clinic finder, or call the Nurse Advice Line at 800-874-2273 and press 1.
Staying Safe on Social Media
Even though social media has many benefits, you should be mindful of personal and operational security while using it:
- Stay informed of Defense Department, branch and unit policies
- Update your operating system and web browser
- Avoid sharing details like specific dates or locations
- Be wary of mobile apps that mark or record your location
- Stay current on privacy policies for each of the social networks you use
- Keep electronics locked when not in use
- Guard your passwords and change them frequently
If you are feeling distress as the result of military service or other life stress, reach out for help. You can use the Real Warriors Live Chat, or contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants. Call 866-966-1020, or visit our “Seek Help, Find Care ” page for a list of key psychological health resources.
- Mancini, A. D., Littleton, H. L., Grills, A. E. (2015). “Can people benefit from acute stress? Social support, psychological improvement, and resilience after the Virginia Tech campus shootings.” Clinical Psychological Science. 4(3), 401-417. doi: 10.1177/2167702615601001
- Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: Peer-to-peer support and social media . Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 25(2), 113-122. doi:10.1017/S2045796015001067
- Wiederhold, B. K. (2017). Beyond direct benefits: Indirect health benefits of social media use . Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(1), 1-2. doi:10.1089/cyber.2016.29059.bkw