BEE HEARD: Healthy social media habits

Photo Credit: Native Connections

Socially Connected

Some may remember when we used to pass notes in school or call our friends from the land line to stay connected. A lot has changed since those days and there have been some negative side effects resulting from our heavy reliance on social media to keep us connected these days. There have been countless studies that show how social media without limits negatively affects our mental wellness. People have experienced an increase in stress, anxiety, depression and even FOMO! Which means “fear of missing out” who those like myself had to ask a younger person for clarification.

It’s important to understand how social media is or has affected our lives, especially our mental wellness. First, we need to be honest about what apps we use, how much of our day we’re on them, and how we interact with people while we’re on them. Maybe ask yourself, “why am I on social media? Am I connecting positively with others?”

Social Media and Your Brain

According to Majid Fotuhi’s, “What Social Media Does to Your Brain”, too much time on social media may just seem like a bad habit, but it is also important to recognize that excess time spent on social media can change the structure of the brain.

Research shows that cognitive function, or how your brain works, can be negatively impacted by overuse of social media. Part of the design of popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Tick Tock, etc. is that there is always new content to discover. At the hit of your refresh button you can see the newest post every second when someone you follow updates their profile with a new photo or video. This is activating the reward part of your brain that releases dopamine (a.k.a. the feel-good neurotransmitter). This is like how the brain works with other forms of addition as well, i.e. gambling, substance use, etc. (Fotuhi, 2020). The makers of these platforms know this, and strategically use it to keep you invested.

Not only can social media become addictive, but it can also decrease your attention span (by shrinking part of the brain that associated with maintaining focus), ability to perform on tests, and memory (Fotuhi, 2020).

There are many positive things that come from social media, but just like most things a good rule of thumb is “everything in moderation,” particularly when it comes to how this impacts our brain and in turn our mental health.

Yes, social media can be addictive!

Just like some experience addictions with alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, or even gambling, social media can also be addictive. We don’t realize the psychological hold social media and apps can have on our ability to stay focused, stay asleep, or even concentrate at work or school.

The Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division encourages you to re-evaluate your social media habits and think about spending one hour less every day on social media, or take a “social media” break, or set time limits on your phone. To fill your non-social media time, think about maybe spending time with friends offline or learn a new hands-on skill, or just spend some time solely dedicated to you. Whatever you choose, just know that you are breaking the hold that social media has on you and your mental wellbeing.

Feel free to contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division for more tips or mental health services at 970-563-5700. We would love to talk to you and your family about staying mentally healthy.

You are ready to help create a drug-free community? Want to help and be a part of the change? We are looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma, and start the discussion around suicide and prevention.

We have monthly coalition meetings and workshops to help our community understand the real story behind alcohol, meth, opioids, vaping, marijuana, and other drugs in our community. We need your help! All meeting is held virtually.

For more information please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-5700 or email


Upcoming Training or Events:


Native Men’s Wellness Training

A virtual training presented by the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division and the Native Wellness Institute for Native American men. Please join us on Tuesday, June 22 at 2 p.m. for two hours to discuss what wellness means and looks like for Native American Men. Open to all Native American men. For more information, please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division 970.563.5700.

Unveiling of the Ute Resilience Youth Art Mural

We welcome you to come by the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building between noon – 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 24 to celebrate the completion of the Rise Above Youth Resilience Project “Ute Resilience.” Light snacks will be provided. The Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building is located at: 4101 CR 222, Durango, Colo. (old sand and gravel building). See you there! Call us at 970-563-5700 if you need directions.

Local Resources

  • Southern Ute Health Center- Behavioral Health 69 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4581. For local Native Americans. Call to schedule a counseling appointment.
  • Southern Ute- Division of Social Services 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support.
  • 24/7 Axis Health System Care Hotline: Durango, CO You’re not alone. With our 24/7 crisis services, help is on the way. Your health… We’re in this together. 970-247-5245
  • St Ignatius Catholic Church, Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241.
  • Ignacio Community Church, Pastor Randall Haynes 405 Browning Ave, Ignacio, CO (currently located inside ELHI) 970-759-3633
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners, believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706.
  • Women’s Resource Center, creates personal, social and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242.

State or National Resources- All are 24/7.

  • Colorado Crisis Line 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has both an online chat and 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one.
  • The Trevor Project which seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386.
  • Jointhe  We  R  Native  movement by liking them on Facebook (www facebook  com/weRnative) , signing up for the text messaging service (text NATIVE to 24587).


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