At the forefront of the internet are your Instagrams, your Facebooks and 10-second videos on Snapchat. A report by the RSPH and Young Health Movement took a look at these various social media platforms and asked 1,479 young people aged 14-24 to rate popular social media apps on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image. All these issues have one thing in common: mental health.
Although social media can connect people from all over the world, rates of anxiety and depression in young people have increased by 70 per cent over the last 25 years. With all that being said, in a small corner of the internet, behind the Instagram posts and 10-second Snapchats, is a platform to fight mental health; this platform is called HeadTalks.
I sat down with the founder of HeadTalks, Oliver Chittenden, to talk about the tools that HeadTalks uses to fight against mental health.
The aim for HeadTalks is to be the online resource for mental health. The idea of combating new media with new media isn’t a new phenomenon but it is in the world of mental health. Oliver Chittenden was able to break down the features which HeadTalks uses to combat mental health.
‘Constantly being online is not good for anyone and again we gave this to the generation below …’
‘True Stories where you can see others who have struggled, the tools they used to move through their pain. Also Success and Struggle to show that we can all manage our mental health and hold down a rich existence. Off Grid Therapy for more alternative views and ideas and FEED the MIND which has many practitioners and experts on the MIND. We have also made a real effort to include young people, social media influencers as well digital detox folk so that the young can be inspired by this platform’.
With more of the youth becoming digitised and spending a lot of time on the internet, HeadTalks seems to have some kind of solution and Chittenden not only acknowledges that social media can impact mental health but also agrees with the figures.
‘Constantly being online is not good for anyone and again we gave this to the generation below. Almost like giving the keys to the sweet shop. It is our responsibility to manage the use of social media, particularly amongst the young. Whilst speaking with Roxie Nafousi, I found it enlightening to hear how social media has affected her mental wellbeing, creating a love-hate relationship with these platforms. And while she still wants to post great images on social media, she knows that too much can be a bad thing’.
It may be said that a platform is not a substitute for professional help, and although no case studies have been conducted on the tools used by HeadTalks, Chittenden believes in using experiences to help others.
‘I think we can change the mindset of people using technology and social media; it has huge power if used responsibly’.
‘I have always gone on instinct and as someone who struggles with mental health I hope to have used my own experience to make it helpful to others’.
‘I feel we need to help each other on these journeys, understand how others manage their own wellbeing and share more. We want to break the stigma of mental health in our society, and to shine a light on the positivity and support that should be available to everyone, no matter their situation’.
This also reveals why he started HeadTalks in the first place, because of his own experience with depression.
‘Through my own personal crisis. Having had my first breakdown aged 27… I ended up in a treatment centre in the US and then in hospital as all my bodily organs began shutting down due to trauma and holding on for so long. I knew then that I had to do something in the sector and change things in my life. It was one of those moments where the pain is so great you are shocked into a U-turn as you reassess your priorities; I wanted to make a contribution to the world’.
‘I think we are contributing something positive to social media in terms of what we post, so I am comfortable with this for now. And yes, I think we can change the mindset of people using technology and social media; it has huge power if used responsibly’.