Mental health is a major issue for young people, while its broader effects on our society have only begun to be taken seriously by politicians across all parties over the last few years, with deserved emphasis on achieving parity with physical health. Not surprisingly, young people’s interactions with social media play a big part on their wellbeing, such is the role it now plays in almost everyone’s daily lives.
The #StatusOfMind report recently issued by The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement (YHM) revealed that, while there are positive aspects of social media on young people, much more can be done to combat its negative impact. According to the report, Instagram and Snapchat have the potential to be the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing, despite their ability as powerful platforms for positive self-expression and self-identity. Undoubtedly, social media provides a vast and unlimited platform for creativity and online connectivity. This, however, does not mean we should ignore social media’s full impact on the mental health of young people. As such, the potential is there for all of us who use social media to harness these positive aspects and nurture a healthy discussion about our mental health online. The full report can be read here.
Its proposed solutions include;
- Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support.
- Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated.
Personally, on one hand, social media allows me to communicate more easily, whether it is sharing my thoughts on the latest current affairs, films or my top ten Italian vampire flicks, networking with others, or chatting with family and friends when I feel low. However, no matter how hard I try not to compare myself to others, I often can’t help it; a snapshot of someone’s life can have a big impact on your self-esteem, no matter how small.
To help address these issues, Instagram recently launched its own #HereWithYou with a video campaign designed to showcase how the communities and people within its walls deal with different issues.
For marketing professionals, platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are essential parts of any integrated and effective strategy. The opportunity for more brands and organisations to engage with this issue is there and if taken, it can only be beneficial to everyone to take an open-minded approach. Here are some of my own brief thoughts on how brands can use social media platforms to boost the mental health of their audience.
- Instagram; sharing tips for overcoming challenges and mental boosts, what have people done for you?
- Ask your audience; who has inspired you? A weekly #MyInspiration post.
- A weekly or monthly Twitter chat about mental health could be a great way to talk to your followers and for them to get to know each other more.
For all those who have been understanding about my own anxiety and see my autism as simply part of who I am, I would like to say a big and heartfelt thank you. You are my inspiration.