Adolescents turn to social media when in need of mental health care
Adolescents with the greatest need for mental health services were more likely to seek help from peers or informal online communities than from adults or professionals, according to research presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting.
To determine how adolescent social media use interacts with self-harm and suicidal behavior, Erin L. Belfort, MD, Maine Medical Center, reviewed available research data on the relationship between social media activity, nonsuicidal self-injury and communication of suicidality.
Adolescents typically sought sensitive health information and support for depression from informal, nonprofessional resources such as chat rooms, blogs or social media sites.
Adolescents with the greatest need for mental health services may be the least likely to seek services, according to Belfort.
Online communities often provided support, but also normalized and encouraged risky behaviors such as nonsuicidal self-injury and suicide attempts.
Belfort found increases in ED visits and psychiatric inpatient admissions due to risky behaviors related to social media, including cyberbullying, nonsuicidal self-injury, and communication of suicidality via social media.
“Adolescent use of social media is ubiquitous and has significant clinical implications for providers working with this population,” Belfort wrote. “Adolescents with the highest need for mental health services are more likely to seek help from their peers or informal online sources than from adults or professionals. Peers are often the recipients of communications of suicidality, which can delay or prevent access to mental health services.” – by Amanda Oldt
Belfort EL. Text, cut, and post: How adolescent social media use interacts with self-harm and suicidal behavior. Presented at: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting; Oct. 23-28, 2017; Washington, D.C.
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