Mental health and online activity – exploring training needs

Theme Mental health

Workstream Psychological interventions

Status: This project is ongoing

Young people – aged 16-24 – are more likely to use digital technology to access work, health consultations, and social media. Online activity can be beneficial for mental health, but it can also be harmful and contribute to:

  • disordered eating
  • self-harm behaviours
  • poor sleep quality
  • isolation

Many people who develop depression or anxiety start experiencing symptoms by their mid-20s. Most will not become unwell enough to be referred to secondary care such as a hospital or specialist clinic. This means that primary care appointments with GPs, or therapists in talking therapy services, could provide an opportunity to discuss online activity and its impact on mental health with young people.

Such conversations could prevent young people from becoming unwell by increasing their awareness of where their online behaviour may be negative. They may also provide an opportunity to identify risk and suggest strategies for safer online behaviour. However, many GPs and therapists report a lack of confidence or knowledge in discussing this topic with this age group.

Project aims

During this project we will:

  • explore the views and experiences of discussing the impact of online activity on young people’s mental health with primary care therapists, GPs, wellbeing coaches and nurses
  • identify practitioner training needs
  • use these insights to co-develop a training package

What we hope to achieve

Alongside creating and evaluating a training package, we also hope to develop other interventions (e.g., online activity behaviour change) for primary care practitioners in this area.