More than half of young adults turned to social media for mental health support during lockdown

More Than Half Of Young Adults Turned To Social Media For Mental Health Support During Lockdown and the HSE website were among the resources most widely accessed by almost 400 respondents.
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Muireann Duffy

A study has revealed almost half of 18 to 25-year-olds surveyed said they turned to social media for mental health support during the first national lockdown.

The research conducted by University College Dublin (UCD) included almost 400 respondents, showing they accessed practical help through dedicated mental health social media accounts, in addition to apps and free services from charity groups, such as Jigsaw and


Following a surge in referrals of young people by many mental health services last year, the study's co-lead, Dr Claudette Pretorius said social media and online tools could be used in tandem with traditional services in order to best support young people.

The research found that different social media platforms were being used for different purposes, with Facebook being a source of support groups, while Instagram was used to engage with influencers who focused on mental health issues.

One third of respondents said the also used mental health apps, including Headspace, Calm Harm, Moodpath, #selfcare, Woeboat and Youper.

A further quarter used formal online resources, such as charities (26 per cent), or professional counselling services (13.2 per cent), while (13.2 per cent) and the HSE website (10.4 per cent) were the most accessed resources.


Almost three quarters of young people said they used apps like Whatsapp or Snapchat to contact mental health professionals for therapy or counselling, while Zoom and Instagram direct messages were also used.

"The purpose of the study was to get a better picture of what works for young people, so that services online can be enhanced," Dr Pretorius said.

She added lockdown was the first time many young people indicated they felt the need to pursue mental health supports, saying: "It is evident that they were pleasantly surprised".

"There is a strong argument for advertising these services more widely in the community and in our schools and colleges," Dr Pretorius said.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email Alternatively, the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.

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