Social networks have captured the attention of young people so we need to use them to provide support.
Today the Royal Society for Public Health published their #statusofMind survey. The survey of just under 1,500 young people aged 14-24 has revealed that social media platforms exacerbate feelings of anxiety, loneliness and inadequacy.
Social networks can have a negative impact if overused and often promote a biased view of life that overemphasizes the positive and downplays the negative. The result is teenagers attempting to live up to ideals that are not real, achievable or necessary desirable.
TalkLife believes that social networks can have a significant and positive role to play in mental health and wellbeing and we are seeing plenty of encouraging signs that we should be celebrating. For example there is a growing grassroots movement, sparked by Pewdiepie across YouTube of young people openly and honestly talking about mental health and a growth in supportive places online for people to share and get support.
However a big part of the solution is going to be educating young people on how to look after their mental health and use social media in a positive way. Giving young people coping mechanisms, and healthy ways to use social media, including regular digital detoxes is really important.
‘Social media isn’t going away. The key here is to teach young people how to handle social media and to develop coping mechanisms so they can look after themselves online’ Jamie Druitt, CEO TalkLife
We also need to offer online support. Platforms that focus on providing a safe place for people to share and get support for how they’re really feeling without the need to put on a brave face or pretend things are ok when they’re not, have huge potential for youth mental health. By providing engaging options for young people to access help that use aspects of social networking that they engage with we can we can dramatically increase the number of people reaching out for and receiving support.
‘We need places where people can share the positive and negative parts of life, where they can be open and authentic and see that they are not alone in going through both the ups and downs of life’ Jamie Druitt, CEO TalkLife
TalkLife is a peer support platform, a new kind of social network where young people can talk about the ups and downs of life in a safe, non-judgmental and engaging environment. We’re supporting hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe to open up about their mental health. Whether it’s self-harm, anxiety, depression, problems with school, relationships or bullying.