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The impact of social media on young India’s mental health

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

 

Source: Indian Express

Context:  The growing dependency on social media is very worrying as its constant use leads to many problems like exposure to risky content, changes in behavioural patterns, inferiority complex, cyber-bullying etc.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being, where an individual realises their capabilities, can cope with the normal stressors of life, work productively, and is able to contribute to their community.

There can be many problems, which can be highlighted, but the most important of them are:

  1. Depression

According to UNICEF, 1 in 7 Indians aged 15 to 24 years feel depressed. Depression is linked to lack of self-esteem, poor concentration and other maladaptive symptoms, and can lead to difficulties in communication, failure to work or study productively, amplified risk of substance use and abuse, as well as suicidal thoughts. One of the key risk factors for these prevalent rates of depression is social media.

  1. Internet Persona

Body dysmorphia– It is common among young people and has increased over the past few years.

  1. Lack of socialization

Excessive social media use takes time away from doing other things that may benefit your mental health like connecting with others in person, spending time in nature and taking care of yourself.

 

The Suggestions/Solutions

  • We must take action on mental health seriously and monitor the incidence of psychiatric disorders (like, depression, anxiety) and identify the factors of risk and resilience.
  • There is a need to conduct a disaggregated situational assessment of the diverse young demographic in our country. Such an assessment should keep in mind the differences associated with class, gender and other social factors.
  • Need to focus on socialization in family schools and professional spaces along with physical exercises and meditation. Let us bring ourselves closer to nature and natural things.
  • Need of creating awareness and dialogue that would help in de-stigmatising the issue, in order to allow autonomy for the individual to share feelings in a safe space.
  • Pragmatic government policies based on empirical evidence, strong political will, social inclusion, mental health literacy, vibrant media and a responsive corporate sector coupled with innovative technologies and crowdsourcing could mitigate this apathy.

 

Government Initiatives

  • Constitutional Provision: Right to Health (including mental healthcare) is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • National Mental Health Program (NMHP) ( To address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals)
  • Mental HealthCare Act 2017 (Guarantees every affected person access to mental healthcare and treatment from services run or funded by the government)
  • Kiran Helpline (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (2020) launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline)

 

Insta Links

Towards a stronger Mental Health Strategy

 

Mains Link

Q. Mental health is one of the most neglected social issues in India. Comment. (10M)