By Ana Madureira
The Health Secretary is meeting the worldwide head of the Instagram, Adam Mosseri, today to discuss duty of care and the purging of self-harm and suicide content.
This is happening during Children’s Mental Health Week and only two days after the Safer Internet Day and according to the chief executive of Merseyside Youth Association (MYA), using the internet safely might help young people with mental health problems.
Gill Bainbridge says that the internet and the use of social media can support young people who feel isolated and, when done correctly, offer support networks.
However, for her, those positive outcomes do not erase the importance of personal interaction, she said: “For me social media can never replace face to face contact, so whether that’s support that young people have through supportive adults, their own pairs or through professionals, that’s the difference that people can make.”
The last year NOW festival, created by the MYA, revealed that for many youngsters social media can add to pressures, be intrusive and negative for their mental health.
For the MYA chief executive the problem is that they can not escape from their social problems, she said: “If I look at my childhood and when I was a teenager I went home and I could close my front door and the bullies and the negativity couldn’t follow me (…) when you have social media that’s there all the time.”
For her, teaching young people how they use social media from a young age by establishing screen free times can be part of the solution, she said: “We can’t uninvent what’s already out there but what we need to do is to influence young people in how they use social media and how they use new technologies.
“You have to model the behaviour that you want in your children. It’s the path of least resistance sometimes, you think it gives you a quiet life in that moment but it doesn’t in the long run because you are not developing your children’s skills in other ways that they need to become life ready. “
Social media owners also have an important role: “I think that tech companies have a responsibility to safeguard them from harm.”
The rate of suicides on people aged 15 to 19 has doubled in the past eight years and for the CEO of Merseyside Youth Association the use of technology has to be discussed since birth and promoted by health visitors and children’s centres otherwise “We’re going to raise a generation that can’t look each other in the eye.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health, contact these free helplines:
Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90