Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents?

With social media increasingly integrated into the lives of today’s teenagers, there are two urgent needs: for further research on online exposure to substance use and for clear recommendations to mental health practitioners, adolescents, and parents about the need to assess and monitor teens’ online exposure to substance use | Journal of Adolescent Health

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Image source: Roey Ahram – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Teens and Social Media

In 2015, 92% of teens aged 13 to 17 years reported going online daily, 24% were online “almost constantly,” and 71% used more than one social networking sit. Social media use is associated with mental health problems including depression, sleep disturbance, and eating concerns among young people. Social media perpetuates social comparison in a world where everything is curated, which is particularly problematic for teens who may be more prone to depressive cognitions in the face of such social comparison.

Social Media and Substance Use

Substance use is rampant and often glorified by celebrities and others on social media. There have been reports of social media being used as a strategy for selling drugs, with hashtags facilitating the process of pairing buyers with sellers. Tobacco, electronic cigarette, and alcohol industries have widely integrated social media platforms into marketing strategies that are fully accessible to teens. In this way social media has opened up doors for these industries to market to youth even when direct marketing to minors is against the law or supposed to be internally regulated. The burgeoning cannabis industry is opening up even more opportunities for teens to have exposure to advertising through social media. Exposure to substance use imagery is associated with subsequent onset in use, which is why drinking alcohol and using drugs in movies warrants an R rating. Social media is harder to regulate.

Full reference: Costello, C.R. & Ramo, D.E. (2017) Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents? Journal of Adolescent Health. 60(6) pp. 629–630

Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement have published a new report, #StatusOfMind, examining the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health.

The report includes a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health. YouTube tops the table as the most positive with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

RSPH and the Young Health Movement are calling for action from government, social media companies and policy makers to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives. These recommendations include:

  • Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations
  • Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support
  • Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated

Download the full report #StatusOfMind

Additional link: BBC news report

Ethics of digital technology for mental health

The potential of digital technology to make the lives of people with mental health difficulties better has never been greater | The Mental Elf

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The advent of the smartphone and mobile internet access has created the conditions for an ever-expanding range of opportunities for the use of technology to influence outcomes in health. However, ethical considerations remain for professionals in suggesting the use of such technologies.

Bauer et al.’s (2017) open access paper Ethical perspectives on recommending digital technology for patients with mental illness reviews some of the major ethical concerns presented to medical professionals by this explosion of technological possibilities and explores some of the ways in which new technologies challenge the boundaries between health, commerce and the private and public uses of data.

Read the full blog post here

The Psychosocial Needs of Adolescent Males Following Interpersonal Assault

Myers, R.K. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health | Published online: 16 May 2017

Purpose: We examined the self-identified, postassault psychosocial needs of male adolescents to guide recovery and healing after being seen in an emergency department (ED) for a violence-related injury.

Conclusions: Despite experiencing minor physical injuries, assault-injured youth report clinically significant traumatic stress symptoms and recognize postinjury mental health needs. Results suggest that youth-focused early intervention services, particularly related to mental health, are acceptable and desired by youth soon after a violent injury.

Read the full abstract here

New data shows work needed to hit eating disorder treatment standard

More than a third of children with urgent eating disorders are not beginning treatment within a week as required under a new standard, NHS England data has revealed | HSJ

  • New data shows two-thirds of children and young people with an urgent eating disorder had treatment within a week
  • NHS England data also shows nearly three-quarters of routine eating disorder referrals began treatment within four weeks
  • The data is the first published on children and young people’s eating disorders
  • NHS is expected to treat 95 per cent of urgent cases within a week and 95 per cent of routine cases within four weeks by 2020-21

Rad the full article here

New publications from the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network

The NHS Confederation Mental Health Network has published two papers looking at the mental health workforce.

The Future of the mental health workforce

The NHS Confederation Mental Health Network has published The future of the mental health workforce.  This discussion paper presents data on the current picture of the mental health workforce and looks at emerging findings from research to identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the mental health workforce. A final report will be published later in 2017.

Mental health and integrated care

Also published is Mental health and community providers: lessons for integrated care.  This briefing looks at how mental health and community provider organisations are exploring the multi-speciality provider model and how it can drive the delivery of integrated mental and physical healthcare.  The briefing presents key points and lessons learned.

Childhood bullying linked to health risks in adulthood

Childhood bullying may lead to long-lasting health consequences, impacting psychosocial risk factors for cardiovascular health well into adulthood, according to a new study.  | via OnMedica

Findings from a study which tracked a diverse group of over 300 American men from first grade through their early thirties indicate that being a victim of bullying and being a bully were both linked to negative outcomes in adulthood.

The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that men who were bullies during childhood were more likely to smoke cigarettes and use marijuana, to experience stressful circumstances, and to be aggressive and hostile at follow-up more than 20 years later. Men who were bullied as children, on the other hand, tended to have more financial difficulties, felt more unfairly treated by others, and were less optimistic about their future two decades later.

These outcomes are especially critical, the researchers note, because they put the men at higher risk for poor health, including serious cardiovascular issues, later in life.

Read more via OnMedica

Full reference: Karen A. Matthews et.al.  Bullying and Being Bullied in Childhood Are Associated With Different Psychosocial Risk Factors for Poor Physical Health in Men.  Psychological Science  First published April-28-2017