Mental health problems are increasing in young people and the use of social media is being seen as a possible reason. Does The Government need to legislate about what is published on social media to stop it getting worse?
Statistics show an increase in depressive episodes from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014 in adolescents and from 8.8% to 9.6% in young adults.
Clearly depression is on the rise among teens and social media is a factor in this, but can our politicians do more?
Depression is the main problem, followed by anxiety and the pressures of living in our modern society.
Social media is a huge factor contributing to these statistics. It affects people’s self-esteem, human connection, sleep, attention span and memory.
Lina Focht, a sufferer of depression and anxiety, has been hugely affected by using social media.
She said: “I find it really difficult to scroll through Instagram without feeling bad about myself.”
“Seeing what is thought to be “perfect” girls, skinny, tanned, full face of makeup, it isn’t a reflection on what is achievable for most girls.
“It makes me feel like I can’t put any photos on because they won’t be deemed good enough and it led to me having an eating disorder.”
Lina suffered from bulimia for a year as a result of how “Instagram girls” made her feel and thinks the government could do more.
She said: “There aren’t enough laws in place to stop social media bullying, I know you can block people but there needs to be legislation to stop it from happening.”
Some of us keep our insecurities to ourselves and some talk openly, but everyone has them.
The amount of time we spend scrolling through social media looking at perfect photos is affecting mental health greatly.
Nathan Gibson, works at The Link in Redcar which is a professional mental health and emotional wellbeing provider.
It aims to reduce the amount of children, young people and families facing emotional and mental health challenges
Nathan said: “Social media is brilliant for sharing ideas, raising awareness and keeping people connected, but its negative effects have been well-documented.”
“It is important for a company like us to be there for the people that are affected by these negative aspects.
“The pressures society puts on young people now to look a certain way and do certain things is shocking and needs stopping.
“Legislation needs to be put into place to increase happiness on social media, the government has to act.”
It is becoming more difficult in modern society to be happy with your own life and the government could do a great deal more to restrict the pressures caused by social media.
Dr Tim Bono, author of When Likes Aren’t Enough, writes: “When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control.”
It is hugely important for humans to make connections with one another and be socially active.
Social media is taking this aspect of life away with people becoming more familiar with their friends digital profiles.
Another way social media can cause mental health issues is through lack of sleep.
Many people now are on their phones right until the point of going to sleep so your brain doesn’t switch off.
Leading experts say that getting worked up with anxiety from what we see on social media keeps the brain on high alert, preventing us from falling asleep.
In March, it was reported almost half of young people from a survey of 1,000 said their social media platforms made them feel anxious or sad, and it’s this impact on people’s well-being that is concerning.
Lucy Clarke-Billings, a Mental Health First Aider for Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), said: “The constant barrage of perfectly filtered photos are giving everyone – adults included – an unattainable goal of perfection.”
“People only share a snippet of their lives online and they are often the happy, shiny moments.
“Scrolling through airbrushed, altered versions of reality can be anxiety-inducing, particularly for young people, because it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a low self-esteem.
“Over a period of time, these feelings can develop into more serious and debilitating problems such as depression, panic attacks and eating disorders, all of which are compounded by our never-ending news feeds.
“There are some fantastic resources out there for people struggling with mental ill-health but cuts to mental health services in England are putting lives at risk.”
Theresa May acknowledged the inadequacies of the UK’s mental health system in her first speech as Prime Minister.
She said: “If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.”
Lucy believes the Prime minister was right in what she said.
Lucy said: “Patients need to be given more rights and more involvement in their own care. Governments have always promised investment in mental health provision, but – with the exception of increased spending on talking therapies – I’ve yet to see this.”
“We have seen an increase in mental health promotion, but what we need is investment into treatment options and staffing levels.
“A person’s mental ill-health can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight – it’s a lengthy process and it requires time and money – something the government just isn’t backing at the moment.”
Social media can lead to the development of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression when used too much or without caution.
It is obvious that social media is affecting the mental health of young people but when will the government act?