Nottinghamshire students say social media is one of the main reasons for their declining mental health.

Hundreds of young people in the city and surrounding areas attended the NottAlone Live event, at Notts County‘s Meadow Lane football stadium, to discuss mental health and where to get help during children’s mental health awareness week.

The service, which started as just a website and has since expanded to live events, was founded by local councils and the Nottinghamshire NHS during the pandemic after children said it was difficult to find mental health advice.

“i often find myself scrolling through instagram comparing myself to others”

hadia, nottingham girls academy

Students from Nottingham Girls Academy attended the event and shared their experiences of dealing with mental health.

Hadia, 15 said: “For me, the biggest factor is social media. I often find myself scrolling through Instagram comparing myself to others, even if they’re using filters.

“I end up feeling depressed. People need to understand that not everything you see on social media is real.”

Akshara, 14 said : “Social media has given rise to many problems. Some influencers make things look so easy when its definitely not.

“Looking through the comments can be the most stressful thing. I began to feel socially insecure through Covid.

“I was about 10 years old which is the age when people really learn to communicate that really disrupted me,” she said.

Hadia, Nottingham Girls Academy

As social media continues to grow and more platforms emerge, so does the number of users. According to a report by Ofcom, 64% of children aged 3-17 used apps for social media in 2023

Studies show that over recent years social media has had a profound impact on people’s mental health.

A graph constructed from the data given in Table 2 of Kelly, Zilanawala, Booker and Sacker (2019)

It is well established that during the Covid-19 pandemic people’s mental health was affected.

According to Global Citizen, 1 in 4 young people who struggled with mental health during lockdown were not accessing help.

Dr Maddi Popoola, co-founder and Mental Health Support Team Service Manager at Nottingham City Council, helped set up NottAlone so support was easier to find.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we had some research from young people who told us it was confusing about what was out there to support them with their mental health,” she said.

Dr Maddi Popoola

“It’s particularly difficult in a place like Nottingham where we have the city and the county where services can be confusing depending on where you live.

“That is why we set up NottAlone to create a place where people could go for advice, support and guidance all in one place.

“We often think about mental health as a problem in a person, but it’s always impacted by their lives and environments.

“Research has shown that the two key factors are pressure at school and social media and how those two interact,” she said.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness week ran from February 5 to February 11 2024, but support remains available on the NottAlone Website.

Websites to visit for help and support for anyone in Nottinghamshire:

  • https://www.nottalone.org.uk/?a=yp
  • https://www.nottinghamcounsellingcentre.org.uk
  • https://www.nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/mental-health-support/
  • https://www.turning-point.co.uk/services/nottingham-helpline#news-resources
  • https://www.wellnessinmind.org/finding-help/support-services/