Social Media and Mental Health

New survey results have rated Instagram as the worst social media platform when it comes to affecting young people’s mental health – according to The Royal Society for Public Health.

A poll of 1,479 people aged 14-24 were asked to rate which of the five most popular social media platforms they felt had the most negative impact on their mental health.


The RSPH survey asked people to score each platform on issues including depression, anxiety, loneliness, bullying and body image. From the results, mental health charities have urged companies to act accordingly to increase their users’ safety.

In the report the RSPH warned that “social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis” in young people; with 90% of young people using social media regularly, they are more vulnerable to its effects.

Within the survey participants were asked to score each social platform on 14 different health and well being issues. The results revealed both Instagram and Snapchat to have the worst effect on mental health. YouTube was considered to have the most positive effect due to numerous motivational videos available.

Speaking with the BBC, chief executive of the RSPH, Shirley Cramer, said: “It is interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”


From the findings many mental health charities are now calling for social media platforms to introduce a checking system to help those with possible mental health issues.

This could include pop-ups informing users they have used social media for a long period of time and need a break – 70% of participants agreed with this check – and identifying users with mental health problems and “discreetly signposting places they can get support.”

Despite the results, it has been revealed that social media can be used for good. In the case of Instagram, many see it as a positive place for self-expression and self-identity.

If more accounts with airbrushed photos or manipulated images are highlighted, it’s believed that many young and impressionable people will be more aware of the real-life filters that come with posting on social media – after all, you’re not going to post a bad picture of yourself online.

Looking for more information on mental health issues? There are many people ready to help you – visit SAMH, Samaritans or Mind.

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