Social media and mental health

98% of 16 to 24-year-olds have a social media profile, making them the biggest users of social networking sites in Britain.


Compared to 97% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 67% of the 65+ age group. 98% of active social media users log on to their accounts through mobile phones (Source: 2022 Ofcom Adults’ Media use report).

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. It connects you with others that have similar experiences or hobbies. It’s a way to share special times with those you care about but don’t see often.

There are also times when you can’t keep away from it and it can start to get you down. You might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious or unable to switch off. It’s something that all of us experience and you are not alone.

Thankfully, there are ways to make your time on social more positive.

Check in with how you’re feeling before using social media

Have a mood check before using social media and think about whether it’s going to make you feel better or worse. If you’re not feeling great then make sure you head straight to content that will make you smile and leave you feeling more positive.

Create a positive feed with your social media

Have a think about the people and pages you follow. Which ones leave you feeling positive? Which ones make you feel good about yourself?

Fill your feed with things to uplift your mood. Whether it’s cute puppy photos, a mental health vlogger that inspires you or some slapstick comedy to make you laugh.

Unfollow any friends or influencers that are making you feel insecure. People only put out a snapshot of what they want you to see and that perfect diet, body shape or lifestyle is usually not real life.  

Making sure that you have positive people around you online is just as important as offline.

“Social media is one of the most powerful tools for connecting people and encouraging community. But it’s also known for spreading fake news and false reality. I’ve worked in social media marketing for most of my career and have seen social media giants adapt their algorithms to encourage gratification and reward popularity. It all gets a bit ‘Black Mirror’ sometimes. That said I believe likes, comments, and shares can still be achieved with honest and real-life posts. In fact, I genuinely encourage that.

“As a mother of 4-year-old twins, I know social media is going to be a huge part of their adult lives, and yes, sometimes that scares me. Life is hard, and everyone knows it isn’t all rainbows and glitter, so let’s make sure we portray that it doesn’t matter if that picture isn’t filtered or if your house is a bit of a mess in the background. It’s okay to be real.

Danni Johnson, Digital Marketing Manager @ Xpand Marketing

Put a stop to bullying on social media

If you are being bullied online, it’s important that you get help straight away. There are a number of things you can do to get help:

  • talk to someone you trust, like a family member, friend or teacher
  • report what’s happening on the site or app
  • block the people bullying you and take screenshots as evidence of bullying, but don’t reply to them
  • use the privacy settings on your social networks to limit what people see on your profile.

You can also contact our Know Your Mind service to find out about support for young people aged 8-19.

Check your usage on social media

Finding out how many times a day you pick up your phone or how much time you spend on social media and other apps is easy. If you have Apple, use the monitoring app Screen Time or for Android, go to Digital Wellbeing under Settings. You can set yourself timers and daily limits.

Try a digital detox

Having a detox from your socials isn’t as hard as it sounds and you might be surprised at how much better you feel.  You don’t have to get rid of your socials indefinitely, just find what works for you.

To get you started, we’ve put together some useful tips for a successful digital detox!

  • Pick one day of the week when you put your phone away
  • Delete social media apps from your phone and have lots of distractions on hand for when you feel the urge to check your socials
  • Make sure you have a new activity planned to fill in the time that you’d checking your socials
  • Let your family and friends know so that they can support you (perhaps they could cook your fave meal or take you out for a treat if you successfully complete your detox challenge)
  • Get your family and friends to take part, you could do it to raise funds for Mind in Bradford!

You could also keep a journal to track your progress and write down how you feel. If you have felt much better then you could increase the time you spend away from your socials.

What can you do instead of going on social media?

Try to fill your time doing more of the things you enjoy and add in activities where you will be less tempted to check your socials. How about playing board games, having a film night with friends or trying a new physical activity? Maybe you could take up a new hobby or class such as singing, painting or crochet.

What if you’re addicted to social media?

Scrolling through your feed can easily become addictive and can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression. If it’s having a negative impact on your mental health or relationships, then it’s time to get some support.

Some signs that you might be addicted are:

  • Feeling anxious when you’re not able to check your social media
  • Checking your phone as soon as you hear a notification
  • Checking your social accounts as soon as you wake up and just before you go to sleep.

“Many children and young people are constantly bombarded with unrealistic body goals promoted by celebrities and influencers on an ever-increasing number of social media platforms. Filters and airbrushing means young people are aspiring to look like something that has been generated by a computer and in addition they begin to hate themselves and the way they look for falling short of this level of ‘perfection’. This anxiety can become so intense that children and young people do not want to be seen and refuse to leave the house or attend school for fear of being ridiculed or judged.

“If you’re feeling this way, please reach out. We are here to support you.”

– Chloe Eagle, Children and Young People’s Community Wellbeing Worker @ Know Your Mind

Where to go for support?

If you need some extra support take a look at our support for you page to see how we can help you:

Remember, Mind in Bradford is always here for you so please reach out, whenever you need us.

If you’re from outside the Bradford and Craven area then find your local mind here.

Author: Joanne Royston

Posted on: 26th October 2022

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