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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.

The headlines tell us employment is going in a positive direction, representative of what Mr Brettell, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, describes as a ‘resilient UK jobs market’. For those with autism however it is a different picture.

According to recent figures by the ONS, UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million. For 84% of autistic adults, however, this hides a statistic which should shame a society from which the NHS was founded and that, as successive governments like to remind us, ‘works for everyone.’

According to the National Autistic Society only 16% of adults are in full-time employment, a fact which has not changed in a decade, when a previous survey put the figure at 15%.

Unemployment does not only rob many with autism of their potential but it can also lead to mental health problems, low-esteem and self-doubt, as the video below illustrates. In order for the wider picture to change however, employers need to understand that being autistic doesn’t define an individuals abilities or potential and with the right support autistic individuals can shine. Indeed, employing an autistic individual is an opportunity for employers to learn and develop themselves, not an obstacle. Common strengths that many autistic individuals possess include hyper-focus, imagination and reliability.

For myself and am sure for many others with Autism receiving a rejection email can, at least, in that very moment, be soul-crushing. Yet, even a bit of feedback makes that blow a little easier and for those employers, family and friends who believe in me, I will always be extremely grateful.

 

 

Statistics also make clear that 77% of those with autism do want to work. I am sure they are many, like me, who often struggle to get a good nights sleep, asking themselves over and over in their minds, when will I find that one understanding employer?

As you might guess by the title of this article this picture issue to be equally challenging for those with autism in Wales and indeed, Cardiff. What makes Cardiff uniquely placed to make a difference however, is that it is home to the first national autism research centre in the UK. Established in 2010, the Wales Autism Research Centre has undertaken internationally recognised research in the areas of behaviour and diagnosis, biological and cognitive processes and families and relationships in its mission to advance scientific understanding of autism.

As a city which celebrates and welcomes diversity, I believe that the opportunity is there for Cardiff to become home to leading autistic employment and make create a society which does truly work for everyone, autistic or not.