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Mental health support for young people to focus on social media

Thursday 25th April 2019
New measures have been announced by the Scottish Government to provide more mental health support for young people, with an increased focus on social media.
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It has long been acknowledged that social media has the potential to cause mental health issues, particularly in young people who have more social pressure to deal with. To combat this, the Scottish Government has announced new steps it will take to support young people’s mental wellbeing, especially when it comes to the problems they come across online.

As part of this, £90,000 of funding has been allocated to create advice on the best, most mentally healthy ways in which youths can use social media and the internet in general. This advice will be devised with the help of the people it is going to affect, with the Scottish Government acting in partnership with young people.

A review has also been commissioned looking into how using screens - whether that be computers, tablets or smartphones - can affect sleep patterns, and the impact that in turn has on mental health.

This comes in the wake of a report that identified a worsening in the mental wellbeing of adolescent girls in Scotland. Among other factors, social media, sleep disruption, body image and school pressures were identified as potential causes for this.

Clare Haughey, minister for mental health, discussed this research and the steps the Scottish Government is taking to help at Trinity High School in Rutherglen, which she used to attend. She said: “We want all young people to be able to grow up in a modern Scotland with good mental wellbeing.

“Social media does have the potential to be used in a hugely positive way, but we want to ensure young people are properly informed on how social media promotes unrealistic expectations.”

Adolescent girls in Scotland report higher social media use than boys, and this may correlate with the fact that women of all ages tend to be less satisfied with their appearance than men. This is one reason why these steps focus on girls in particular. 

Written by Angela Newbury

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