One in seven young people will experience a mental illness, and specialists now believe that social media is a leading cause of this.
It is clear social media has taken over all aspects of people’s lives in the past decade.
It is where we communicate and connect with friends and family around the world.
However, studies indicate a sharp increase in the number of teens reporting mental health disorders since social media became popular, and this is mainly due to not spending enough time with people face-to-face.
Teens appear to be using social media as an outlet – a place to vent negative feelings – rather than going to see a professional for help.
'Harrison' writes on Facebook, “depression is my huge weakness …” which indicates a mental issue; however, he chooses to share these feelings with people online rather than just sharing them in person with someone who can help him.
Across Facebook and Instagram, there are depression pages which specialise in sharing sad quotes and photos to connect with people who might be feeling down.
The problem with this is that if teens are only seeing these sad quotes online, they will not be able to get out of their negative mindset, because they are not viewing positive things.
For example, 'Stacey' commented on the Facebook page ‘Depression Quotes’, “… I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to be gone for good …”.
Scrolling through these pages, you can find people commenting about feeling depressed, and others respond with their own feelings and experiences.
This has the potential to create an online community where young people feel safe to share their dark thoughts with others.
However, the downside is that it appears teenagers feel more comfortable sharing their depressive feelings on social media rather than with another person.
Facebook user 'Gavin' wrote in response to a photo, “it’s been like 3 months since I’ve felt like myself”, and Instagram user '@anonymous' captions a photo, “they always say ‘time heals all wounds’ but I keep cutting mine back open”.
Comments such as these indicate a problem which needs addressing, and it is unlikely that help will be found on social media alone.
It has become clear that people need to be educated about the dangers of social media and how it is a huge cause of mental illness.
Only then will teens realise that receiving help from a professional is more likely to benefit them, rather than turning to social media to try and overcome these feelings by themselves.
NOTE: This is a 400-word curated news article I wrote for my university unit News Reporting 2
NOTE 2: For this assignment I had to source quotes directly from social media instead of conducting interviews. Due to this requirement, I have changed the names and usernames of people quoted in this article to protect their privacy