Growth Mindset Social Media Posts: Words Matter

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Growth mindset social media posts, as this person is reading, positively affect mental illness struggles.
April 30, 2024

Social media is a part of our everyday life, whether we like it or not. Even if we tried, most of us could not escape it forever. People depend on social media for news and other types of information, and millions of Americans use it to communicate with others. We recently discussed the benefits of finding a balance between social media and mental health, and we continue to learn more about its effects on the human race. What we may begin to learn more about, however, is the benefits of a growth mindset within the world of social media as it relates to mental health.

We’ll define growth mindset below, along with its counterpart that’s known as fixed mindset. A recent study found that how social media posts are worded can have an effect on how people view mental health challenges. What it all distills down to is that words truly do have meaning, and how we say things is as important as what we’re trying to say, whether we’re speaking or typing.

SoCal Empowered has long believed in framing mental illness with a growth mindset, as it empowers – our name is not a coincidence – people to view their challenges as those that can be overcome. You’ll see what we mean below, but we hope you’ll take a look at the results of the study, take a few minutes to think about how you say – or type – things relating to mental health and perhaps make some adjustments if necessary. It could wind up making a big difference for people.

Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset Defined

Before we delve into the study, it’ll be worth a bit of time to define growth mindset and fixed mindset. These are not terms that only apply to mental health, but they are often used in this context. Psychology Today defines growth mindset as, “the belief that a person’s capacities and talents can be improved over time.” This concept was developed by Dr. Carol Dweck a psychologist who was at Stanford University at the time.

Conversely, a fixed mindset as defined by Dr. Dweck and laid out on MindTools.com, is “the belief that your intelligence, talents and other abilities are set in stone. You believe that you’re born with a particular set of skills and that you can’t change them.” The overall thesis in Dr. Dweck’s book, aptly entitled “Mindset,” is that the way people approach life’s challenges is what tends to set them apart from others more so than natural intelligence or talent.

About the Growth Mindset Study

The study, which can be found here, included 322 undergraduate university students in the Midwest. They agreed to read social media posts relating to mental health that contained either:

  1. A growth mindset
  2. A fixed mindset
  3. A control group whose posts had nothing to do with mental health

Specifically, these social media posts focused on anxiety and depression, and the messages were varied in terms of their actual content.

The language of the posts contained subtle differences. For instance, one post in the fixed mindset subset stated, “I can’t wait for my seasonal depression to be over so that I can get back to my regular depression.” That post depicts a fixed mindset because it assigns depression simply to the passage of time without acknowledging any capabilities in the person experiencing it.

Those who were assigned posts written with a growth mindset saw slightly different messages. One example was a post with a photo and a caption of, “I got this.” Clearly, this indicates that the person suffering from the mental illness at issue is going to be able to affect the ultimate result of the struggle.

The Results of the Study

Overall, the people who read the posts written with a growth mindset in mind were more likely to believe that anxiety and depression were not necessarily permanent conditions. They were more likely to believe that people suffering from these mental illnesses could find ways to overcome them.

Not surprisingly, the people who read posts written with a fixed mindset message believed more often than others that depression and anxiety were more permanent conditions that could not be overcome. This belief also included a generally lower level of confidence in the people who would treat these conditions.

Can the Growth Mindset Help Mental Health Treatment?

While the study was relatively small, the results could open up new possibilities for an increased emphasis on putting the growth mindset to work in therapeutic settings. After all, a person is not going to overcome a mental illness – or just about any other type of challenge – if he or she doesn’t believe it’s possible. Once again, if someone who is suffering from a mental illness is empowered to believe that success is possible, it gives that person an advantage in the battle that’s present.

In addition, the growth mindset could be extremely useful for the friends and/or loved ones of people who are struggling with mental illness. While it’s common for someone to say or write in text messages or social media, “It’s not you, it’s your illness,” in an attempt to show genuine empathy, that may not be the wording that would be most helpful. Instead, someone may serve their loved one better by saying or typing, “I know you can overcome this mental illness if you put in the work. I believe in you.”

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Words matter. How we think about things matter. The way in which we talk to others about things matters, whether that’s in conversation, on social media or via some other electronic mode of communication. We incorporate that into the way we work with the people who come to stay with us at SoCal Empowered. It all begins with mindset and the belief that challenges are surmountable. We owe that level of empowerment to everyone who trusts us with their mental health struggles.

If you’re ready to find empowerment, then you need to contact us to find out more about how we can help you. We’re ready to listen to your situation and to recommend the best path forward.

Contact us today.

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