Social media causing 'significant damage' to young people, Donnelly warns

Social Media Causing 'Significant Damage' To Young People, Donnelly Warns
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has expressed concern about the “significant damage” social media is inflicting on young people who develop unrealistic expectations about life.

“Life can be tough,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.


“One of the concerns I would have is that the social media platforms create an expectation for young people that everyone is happy, everyone has flawless skin, and everyone you know is having a fantastic time, and if you were somehow not perfect looking, and happy, and living this incredible life, that there's something wrong.

“We've seen very clear relationships between the increase in depression, increase in self-harm, increase in suicide ideation linked to more and more social media use,” the Minister said.

Mr Donnelly acknowledged that there was “not a good history in this country” in terms of being open and supporting people with mental health issues.

“That's something we need to take seriously, we need to invest in, and we need to make sure people are very open talking about these things.


“My concern would be if we have a group of people within society who are being told that any time you feel down or anxious or worried that that is somehow a mental health issue, which in some cases it may be, but in many cases it may not be.

“It's just that life is, life can be tough, and there are bumps in the road, and we need to make sure people are resilient.

“One of my big concerns is around the really significant damage that social media is doing, particularly to younger people, Mr Donnelly warned.

“We've more and more information coming out from pretty mild effects to catastrophic effects around body dysmorphia, suicide ideation and, and so forth.

So I think we need to keep pushing in terms of mental health supports, particularly around youth mental health supports, whilst at the same time making sure that people, as they grow up, can have resilience in life.

“Because life can be brutal, unfortunately, and we need to try and help people deal with the ups and downs,” he added.

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