In August 2016, actress Daisy Ridley deleted her Instagram account after reportedly facing significant backlash on an anti-gun violence post. The British actress, who became a global star after essaying the role of Rey in the “Star Wars” movie franchise, recently revealed the real reason behind cutting herself off from social media platforms. “The more I read about teenage anxiety, the more I think it’s [social media] highly unhealthy for people’s mental health,” she said in a weekly December issue of a magazine.
Ridley specifically highlighted the damaging impact of social media on teen mental health. She considered it weird for young people to look at “distorted images of things they should be.” Ridley’s own experiences played a significant part in shaping her opinion. In another recent interview, Ridley spoke about her difficult experiences on Instagram. Besides being trolled for her views on gun control and the Orlando nightclub shooting, she received negative comments about her appearance. “People weren’t nice about how I looked,” she said.
Ridley, who has confessed to suffering from anxiety since her adolescence, felt she was not equipped to handle the pressures of social media. Being “super sensitive,” she prioritized her mental health over everything else. Ridley’s debilitating experience with anxiety caused her body to be “constantly in fight-or-flight” mode.
While Ridley found a sudden difference in her life after achieving stardom, perhaps what perturbed her most was the fact that people wanted to take pictures with her. Terming such experiences as “weird,” she spoke about her preference for engaging in conversation rather than obliging someone with pictures. However, Ridley believed that “people feel the need to prove they have had the interaction through social media.”
Social networking sites and mental health
Recent research has shown that photo-centric social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat were associated with the most negative mental health impacts for youngsters, including high levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and the “fear of missing out” (FOMO). Instagram was considered the worst social media platform, especially due to its detrimental impact on body image issues and anxiety. The app was blamed for promoting low self-esteem, unrealistic expectations and impossible-to-achieve standards of physical perfection, particularly in the case of girls.
A recent, national survey of American teens aged 13-17 showed that Instagram and Snapchat were the two most widely used social media platforms. The research also highlighted that black teens were more active on social media than their white counterparts. A study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science in November 2017 indicated that adolescents aged between 13 and 18 who spent more time on new media (including social media) had a higher likelihood of reporting mental health issues like depressive symptoms and suicide ideation.
Teen mental health, especially in the age of smartphones, constant internet connectivity and excessive social media usage, is a real and pressing concern. Smartphones cannot be considered harmless devices which are used by teens to connect with their friends. Data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that 12.8 percent adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, representing 3.1 million adolescents, suffered from a major depressive episode (MDE) during the year. Only 40.9 percent of these adolescents with MDE received treatment for depression during the year.
Dealing with mental disorders in teens
A little over 25 percent adolescents aged between 13 and 18 years are also affected by anxiety disorders. Although anxiety is treatable, 80 percent children with a diagnosable anxiety disorder do not have access to treatment. Children with untreated anxiety disorders may struggle to perform well at school, lack social experiences and engage in substance abuse.
Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego offers holistic treatment to teens suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Our mental health rehab for teens conducts detailed patient assessment in addition to studying external factors that may help explain the onset of psychiatric disorders in adolescents. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for more information about our residential mental health facilities for teens.