Social media platforms can cause anxiety and lead to mental health issues

A survey in the UK has revealed that Instagram is rated as the worst social media platform in terms of its impact on young people’s mental health and the Royal Society for Public Health says social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis’ in young people.

The BBC reported that the poll asked 1,479 people aged 14-24 to score popular apps on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image. About 90% of young people use social media – more than any other age group – so they are particularly vulnerable to its effects, although it is not clear what these are on current evidence.

And, while mental health charities have urged companies to act to increase users’ safety, Instagram said keeping the platform a safe and supportive place for young people was a top priority.

The RSPH report said social platforms should flag up heavy social media use and identify users with mental health issues and, while there is the threat of a mental health crisis, it added that social media can also be used as a tool for good and Instagram claimed it provides tools and information on how to cope with bullying and warns users before they view certain content.

The survey showed that YouTube was considered to have the most positive impact on mental health, followed by Twitter and then Facebook with Snapchat and Instagram given the lowest scores overall.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “It is interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

In light of the findings, public health experts are calling for social media platforms to introduce a series of checks and measures to help tackle mental health, and the report also recommends that NHS England comes up with a vetting scheme for health and well-being information so young people are better able to judge whether information is trustworthy.

“As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a ‘wild West’ when it comes to young people’s mental health and well-being,” Cramer added.

Earlier studies have also shown that social media can be addictive and have warned of its dangers to mental health among younger people and Tom Madders, from mental health charity YoungMinds, said: “Increasing safety within social media platforms is an important step and one we urge Instagram and other sites to act upon. But it’s also important to recognise that simply ‘protecting’ young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution.”

Dealing with addictive or unwanted habits is among successful treatments clinical hypnotherapy can offer and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has almost 2,000 highly-trained therapists across the UK who can offer such help.

The NCH warns that addictive habits can be something people feel they have no control over which can affects their lives the lives and make them unhappy or cause a risk to their health and the health of those around them.

“If you have an unwanted habit or behaviour, it may often feel as if you are out of control, that there is someone else or something inside of you that is making you do this. A ‘little voice’ that always tells you to do something when you don’t want to do it. But that little voice is part of you and is part of your protection system,” says the NCH.

The reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with your subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made that support your goals quickly and efficiently,” adds the national body.

If you or someone you know is developing an addictive behaviour towards social media, contact an NCH therapist near you by using their directory. It can make all the difference.