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Web and social media have a generally bad press when it comes to their impact on young people's health.
However, there is growing evidence from around the world that initiatives that use digital methods can bring significant benefits for young people, when used as part of a wider approach to promoting health and wellbeing.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is today launching the results of a piece of work that has explored how using the web and social media could support the wellbeing of teenagers.
One key feature of this work was that it set out to “ask the experts”, by working closely with the group that have most experience of the impact of the digital world - young people themselves.
Working with commissioned partners Young Scot, Snook and the Mental Health Foundation, the findings of this work called ‘Project 99’ is setting the tone for a new way of interacting with young people through social media channels.
Through a series of workshops and local group work, young people aged 15 to 21 years have shared their own experiences – positive and negative – about the impact of digital communications on their lives.
They have also been involved in a series of “co-design” exercises to develop a range of prototype ideas for how digital tools could contribute to better wellbeing for young people.
Dr Trevor Lakey, Health Improvement and Inequalities Manager - Mental Health, Alcohol and Drugs, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We have been really encouraged by the enthusiasm and insights that participating young people have brought to this project.
They have cast more light on the realities of growing up in a digitally connected world, but also helped to identify a range of helpful strategies and resources that could make a positive contribution to young people’s wellbeing.”
Chris Sullivan, Policy and Development Manager, Mental health Foundation, added: “Project 99 has been an exciting opportunity for consortium to work with a health board that is seeking to embrace digital in addressing young people’s mental health.
“Our research indicated that the web, social media and gaming can be good for young people’s mental health. Equally, we need to better understand patterns of use and possible risks. The young people who shared their experiences and ideas in interviews and co-design sessions confirmed this. As ever, we were astonished by the insight and imagination shown by young people, and the potential this work shows for Glasgow and beyond is huge.”
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive, Young Scot, said: “Digital technology and social media has never before played such an important role in young people’s lives – whether it be socialising, working, seeking information or relaxing. We are delighted to part of this project which has taken the bold step in exploring how NHS Clyde Greater Glasgow and others can use such powerful and interactive platforms to support young people’s health and wellbeing.
“We’d like to say a huge thanks to the young people who were involved and provided their invaluable insights. By listening, exploring ideas, and experiences directly with them this project has taken an exciting leap in ensuring digital wellbeing for young people is at the forefront of the creation and design services today.”
Notes to Editors
The reports from the Project 99 work can be downloaded from the following website: http://www.wegot99.com/
Mental Health Foundation is a leading UK mental health charity connecting policy, practice and research agendas to support change and campaign for better mental health for everybody
Snook is a service design agency that use a range of creative tools and methods to help people design solutions for improved service experience
Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland, specialising in youth engagement
The project was funded by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, backed by a multi-agency steering group comprising of statutory and voluntary sector partners.
Participating young projects have included: YOMO, Glasgow Association for Mental Health’s Young Carer’s Project, Big ShoutER, Active Renfrewshire and Erskine Music & Media Studio
If anyone has concerns about the mental health of a young person, please seek the help of a General Practitioner or other health professional or via school- or college-based support systems. The following link provides additional information on young people’s mental health http://www.youngscot.org/info/316-what-is-mental-health and The Lowdown is a comprehensive Scotland-wide website providing a guide to teenage health http://www.getthelowdown.co.uk/home.aspx
If anyone has concerns about bullying of any kind, whether online or offline, please see the resources and guidance available via the Respect Me initiative http://www.respectme.org.uk/ such as the campaign video “She’s Still Going Somewhere”
The findings from this work will now be given careful consideration, with the development of any new web and social media approaches complementing the wide range of other services and supports aimed at promoting positive mental health for children and young people.
For further media information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]