Social Media’s Devastating Impact on Mental Health

image that captures the essence of social media's detrimental effect on mental health, depicting a shattered mirror reflecting a distorted self-image, surrounded by hands desperately reaching out for validation and connection.
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The harmful effects of social media on mental health are gaining more focus from experts.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has urged for a deeper knowledge about how online activities and social media can affect the mental health of young people.

This is especially important for those already suffering from mental health problems.

However, the talks about this issue are often not frequent or effective enough.

To address this, the University of Bristol has set up the Digital Dialogues project.

A key part of this project is the Digital Dialogues Young Persons Group (DDYPG).

Their job is to steer research and create helpful materials for mental health workers.

Based on years of reporting on mental health, it’s clear that social media can have a significant effect, particularly on the younger generation.

For instance, a 2018 study by the Pew Research Centre found that 70% of teens see cyberbullying as a major problem.

In my experience, creating safe online spaces is a critical step towards tackling this issue.

For example, online platforms can implement stricter controls against cyberbullying.

They could also offer resources to help young users cope with the pressures of online life.

Guidance for parents is also crucial.

As part of a community strategy, parents could be educated on digital wellbeing.

This could include recognising signs of online bullying and understanding the impact of excessive screen time on mental health.

In conclusion, while social media can bring various benefits, its potential negative impacts on mental health cannot be overlooked.

It’s time to take the necessary steps to ensure a safer and healthier online for our young people.

Key Takeaways

  • Mental health practitioners need to consider the impact of social media on children with mental health problems.
  • Comparing oneself to others on social media can negatively affect self-esteem, especially in terms of appearance.
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) is prevalent among young people using social media, leading to , low moods, and anxiety.
  • Doom-scrolling, or excessive time spent on screens and reading negative news, can contribute to depression, low moods, and anxiety.

The Influence of Social Media on Self-Comparison and Self-Esteem

The pervasive nature of social media platforms contributes to the detrimental effects of self-comparison and self-esteem among users.

In today’s digital age, individuals are constantly exposed to carefully curated images and lifestyles, leading to a comparison culture that can negatively impact self-perception.

Studies have shown that a significant percentage of both women and men compare themselves unfavourably to the idealized images portrayed on social media.

This constant exposure to unrealistic standards can result in negative body image and a decrease in self-esteem.

It is important to recognise that social media is not the sole cause of these issues, but it does exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems.

However, it is worth noting that deleting social media can have positive effects on mental health, although it may also lead to a feeling of disconnection from friends.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and Its Detrimental Effects on Mental Health

With the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and BeReal, the fear of missing out (FOMO) has become increasingly prevalent and is having detrimental effects on individuals’ mental health.

FOMO’s connection to increased anxiety and social media’s role in exacerbating feelings of inadequacy are key factors contributing to this negative impact.

FOMO triggers a constant need to stay connected and up-to-date, leading to heightened anxiety levels.

Social media platforms showcase others’ seemingly perfect lives, creating a sense of inadequacy and comparison.

The fear of missing out on events or experiences displayed on social media can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with one’s own life.

The constant exposure to curated content on social media platforms can distort reality and create unrealistic expectations, further feelings of FOMO and mental distress.

It is essential to recognise the harmful effects of FOMO and develop strategies to promote healthier social media usage and better mental well-being.

The Dangers of Doom-Scrolling and Its Impact on Mental Well-being

Excessive release from doom-scrolling, coupled with prolonged screen time and exposure to negative news stories, can have devastating effects on individuals’ mental .

This constant exposure to negative content can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, and low moods.

The psychology of doom-scrolling revolves around the addictive nature of seeking out negative information.

Curiosity and the sense of release dopamine in the brain, individuals to explore further and consume negative news.

To break free from doom-scrolling and improve , strategies can be implemented.

These include setting boundaries and limits on screen time, in activities that promote positive emotions, practising and self-care, and seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals.

Participating in the Digital Dialogues Project: Addressing the Relationship Between Social Media and Mental Health

Interested individuals can actively contribute to and engage in the Digital Dialogues Project, which aims to address the relationship between social media and mental health.

This research initiative offers an opportunity to make a difference in understanding the impact of social media on mental health and to contribute to the development of resources for practitioners.

By participating in the project, individuals can help bridge the gap between practitioners and young people, providing valuable insights and perspectives.

The project includes the Digital Dialogues Young Persons Group (DDYPG), which guides the research and produces resources for practitioners.

The Urgent Need for Guidance and Resources for Mental Health Practitioners in the Age of Social Media

A significant number of mental health practitioners lack sufficient guidance and resources to address the challenges posed by social media effectively in their practice.

There is a clear knowledge gap among practitioners when it comes to understanding the impact of social media on the mental health of young people.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has emphasised the need for practitioners to consider the influence of social media on children with mental health issues.

However, discussions about online usage and mental health among practitioners are infrequent and often unhelpful.

Initiatives like the Digital Dialogues project at the University of Bristol have been established to bridge the divide between practitioners and young people.

This project includes the creation of the Digital Dialogues Young Persons Group (DDYPG), which aims to guide research and produce resources that can assist practitioners in addressing the challenges posed by social media.


In conclusion, the impact of social media on mental health is a complex issue that requires further research and understanding.

The Digital Dialogues project at the University of Bristol is playing a crucial role in addressing this issue by creating a platform for dialogue and developing resources for mental health practitioners.

The detrimental effects of self-comparison, fear of missing out, and doom-scrolling highlight the urgent need for guidance and support in navigating the challenges posed by social media.

It is essential to prioritise mental well-being in the age of social media.

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