Potential of social media in promoting mental health in adolescents
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2018, 14:24 by Michelle O'Reilly, Nisha Dogra, Jason Hughes, Paul Reilly, Riya George, Natasha Whiteman
The growing prevalence of adolescent mental disorders poses significant challenges for education and healthcare systems globally. Providers are therefore keen to identify effective ways of promoting positive mental health. This aim of this qualitative study was to explore perceptions that social media might be leveraged for the purposes of mental health promotion amongst adolescents aged between 11-and-18 years. Utilising focus groups conducted with adolescents (N=54), educational professionals (N=16) and mental health practitioners (N=8) we explored their views about the value of social media for this purpose. Three themes were identified. First, social media appears to have potential to promote positive mental health. Second, adolescents frequently utilise social media and the internet to seek information about mental health. Finally, there are benefits and challenges to using social media in this way. We conclude that despite challenges of using social media and the risks, social media does offer a useful way of educating and reaching adolescents to promote mental wellbeing.