Singer and actress Selena Gomez has always been honest about the mental and physical health issues she’s faced in the past, including her struggles with Lupus, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder diagnosis. This month on Good Morning America, the 29-year-old opened up about her step back from social media, which has drastically improved her mental health. Previously, she’s talked about how she deleted all social media apps from her phone and now she shares that she’s been off the Internet altogether for almost five years.
“It has changed my life completely,” Gomez said, according to GMA. “I am happier, I am more present, I connect more with people. I understand how powerful the internet is, and in so many ways it’s done the best things for the world. But for me, I get to my news that is actually important I get through people in my life.”
It’s no secret that declining mental health and using social media go hand in hand. A 2022 study from McClean Hospital found that most people become addicted to social media for validation and positive interaction through likes, comments, and shares. When we get the rewards we’re looking for, our brains release the chemical dopamine, almost like a mental high, which enables us to keep sharing content. When we don’t get that satisfaction, it can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. That can then lead to physical stresses in the body including nausea, muscle tension, and loss of sleep.
According to the WHO, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only been a further trigger for mental health struggles. In a study done earlier this month, scientists found that in the first year of COVID alone, “global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25 percent”, especially in young people, women, and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Social media platforms have been taking notice. Recently, Instagram allowed users the option to remove the “like count” function from their own posts to help combat comparison and issues with self-esteem and confidence. But is it enough?
In the same interview with GMA, Gomez shared that she’s offering her own solution to the global mental health crisis through her new multi-media platform Wondermind. While it can’t replace a therapist, it will offer resources, exercises, and community for people needing any form of mental health.
“There are places where people go when they need help, and it’s unfortunate that they cost ridiculous amounts of money,” Gomez said. “But [as with] Planned Parenthood, there’s a place for women to feel okay and to feel understood, and I want that for mental health. I think it’s so important and I can’t stress it enough how much I care and how much I really, really want people to be understood, seen and heard.”
In addition to Wondermind, Gomez has other projects in the works, including her starring role in the upcoming biopic about Silvia Vásquez-Lavado. The Peruvian-American mountaineer was the first openly gay woman to complete the Seven Summits, the seven highest mountains in the world. Gomez currently stars in the hit Hulu series Only Murders in the Building alongside veteran actors Steve Martin and Martin Short. Her HBO Max cooking show Selena + Chef, which she stars in and executive produces, was recently renewed for a fourth season. Gomez is also set to executive produce 15 Candles, a comedy series inspired by the 1984 classic Sixteen Candles with a Latinx spin.
“I’ve got to do something [more],” Gomez said back in 2017 when she originally deleted her social media apps. “After I’m gone, I want people to remember me for my heart.”