Mental health support for young to focus on social media

The Scottish Government has announced investment to support young people with their mental health Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Advice on the healthy use of social media will be provided to young people as part of a Scottish Government strategy to improve mental health support.

Funding of £90,000 will be provided for producing the advice, which will focus on Scotland-specific concerns around the use of social media and its impact on mental health raised in a new report on the issue.

The Government study, published on Friday, said the mental health of young people in Scotland has worsened in recent years and the decline is particularly marked amongst adolescent girls, who were reported as having poorer mental health than boys of a similar age.

Feelings of dissatisfaction with body image, school-related pressures and disrupted sleep were identified as being some of the factors contributing to poor mental health, with girls also noted to use social media more than boys.

In 2017, the Scottish Government launched a 10-year mental health strategy to provide greater support for mental health across the country and to remove any stigma and discrimination around the issue.

The publication of the advice, created in partnership with young people, will form part of a range of measures aiming to improve mental health.

Minister for mental health Clare Haughey said: “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.

“During Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week we announced that we will be producing advice, specific to Scotland, on the healthy use of social media and screen time.

“We are now committing £90,000 to carry out this work as part of a package of measures to give young people the support they need.

“We want all young people to be able to grow up in a modern Scotland with good mental wellbeing.”

Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells claimed young people are having to wait too long for support.

She said: “It won’t be a surprise to anyone that social media can have a significant effect on the mental wellbeing of our youngsters.

“There’s no doubt that we need to help children deal with the pressures it brings, yet the SNP have so far failed to provide the support they need.

“Children with mental health issues are still having to wait weeks and weeks for an appointment, and they are being let down by this Government.

“Until we see that situation improve, we risk these youngsters having to face a lifetime of chaos and misery if these issues are not addressed.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive at SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), said: “We welcome this investment in providing guidance on using social media in a healthy way.

“Through our campaigning work,  we’ve heard from thousands of children, young people and their parents about the issues that affect their mental health, and social media is often raised.

“But we also hear that it can be a great source of support and information for young people, so we’re pleased that they will soon be able to access robust and balanced guidance about how to use these tools in a positive way.”