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Information for Parents and Professionals

Hidden Strength is striving to become a unique Mental Health platform, aiming to transform the Mental Health provision for 12 to 25 year olds.

Hidden Strength will become the ‘go-to’ portal for advice, guidance and support, both peer to peer and in the form of fully qualified therapists available on-demand, specialising in supporting adolescents and young adults using secure, anonymous and virtual environments. The platform will also provide holistic mental well-being tools allowing the community to access a range of online activities. Access to the platform and therapist support will be free to the users.

Growing awareness of mental illness in young people, the horrific statistics combined with the known devastating effects on young lives and the lives of their families mean there has never been a stronger call to action.

Social Media plays a huge part in the pressures this demographic face. The global pandemic has magnified these pressures. Now is the time to act.

All young people deserve the best start in life. Too often, young people with a mental health issue have no-where to turn unless they find the courage to call or text a helpline or are in the fortunate position to afford to seek private therapy. Very few young people text, and even fewer pick up the phone to call. Any of these options immediately stigmatise them and make them feel as if they are further alienated from their peers and family.

  • 1 in 7 children aged 11-16 have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 5 children in every classroom (1)
  • Nearly one in four 17 to 19-year-old girls have a mental disorder (2)
  • Just over half of young women with a mental health illness reported having self-harmed or made a suicide attempt (3)
  • 1 in 3 young people have self-harmed (4)
  • In 2017, suicide was the most common cause of death for children aged between 5 and 19 (5)
  • More than 1 in 10 children aged 10-15 say they have no one to talk to or wouldn’t talk to anyone in school if they feel worried or sad (6)
  • A recent study found that greater social media use results in online harassment, poor sleep, low self-esteem and poor body image; in turn, these related to higher depressive symptom scores (7)
  • Children living in lower-income and single-parent households are likely to use social media for 5 or more hours daily (8)
  • Social media has been reported to heighten anxiety by increasing users’ fear of missing out (9)
  • 11 to 19-year olds with a mental disorder were more likely to use social media every day (10)
  • Children who have experienced bullying or cyberbullying are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide (11)
  • Social media and technology can negatively impact young people’s mental health. Recent data shows that a third of children in the UK feel anxious or stressed every day (12)

By creating a totally safe, easily accessible, anonymous environment for adolescents and young adults to open up and seek help, young people can get advice, help and support without stigmatism.

The goal of Hidden Strength is to revolutionise the way young people share experiences and access the support they need, thus mitigating devastating outcomes.

Hidden Strength will become the first mental health platform to build an on-line community that serves its users in-keeping with their digital lives. To date, the options available to this demographic when seeking any form of support for their mental well-being is limited to calling or texting helplines.

Hidden Strength strives to enable mental health and mental well-being provision to be a positive step in every young person’s life. It will de-stigmatise their need for support in this area and provide a solution to an ever-growing problem.

According to the Office for National Statistics:

  • 7.4million of the population in 2018 were 10-19-year-olds, that is 11% of the total UK population
  • On average young people are spending up to 10.6 hours per day consuming content across their devices
  • Almost all 16-19-year-olds in the UK now own a smartphone
  • As socialising increasingly happens online rather than in person, most of the UK’s 16-20-year-olds say they’d feel lonely if they didn’t own a smartphone  
  • 94% of 13-18-year olds used social media sites before and after school 
  • Daily social media use among teenagers in England has been reported to be linked to symptoms of internet withdrawal. This, in turn, is associated with lower levels of life satisfaction 
  • There is growing recognition that new media and communications devices offer platforms for health interventions that may be particularly suitable for young people

Social media has put huge pressure on young people. Currently Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube and other platforms facilitate this demographic having an active online/digital life. However, they do not acknowledge, nor cater for the negative side to their services.

In fact, as the recent US docudrama ‘The Social Dilemma’ demonstrates the extreme harm caused by such platforms, and their data used for profit at the expense of mental health.

Hidden Strength works closely with professionals specialising in the mental health of adolescents and young adults to ensure that the information, support and advice provided is accurate and in line with industry standards and practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have had an impact on young peoples’ mental health and social media use.

  • People aged 18–24 reported worse mental health and wellbeing during lockdown than all other age groups, and are more likely to have seen their mental health get worse during the lockdown (13,14)
  • 75% of young people with previous experience of mental health problems said their mental health has gotten worse during the lockdown. (13,14)
  • Over 4 in 5 (82%) young people had a lower than average well-being score (13,14)
  • Just under three-quarters of young people (72%) said loneliness had made their mental health worse (13,14)
  • Over half of young people and adults have been over or under-eating to cope, while nearly a third turned to alcohol or illegal drugs (13,14)
  • One in three young people (33%) with experience of mental health problems self-harmed to cope during the lockdown (13,14)
  • 1 in 4 young people did not access support during lockdown because they did not think that they deserved support (13,14)
  • 1 in 4 young people was then not able to access the mental health support that they sought (13,14)
  • Half of 18–24-year-olds said that difficulties accessing mental health support made their mental health worse (13,14)
  • “Knowing others were going through the same thing” was cited as a helpful strategy that made people feel less alone when they were facing mental health challenges during the lockdown. Social media played a key role in enabling this (13,14)
  • When it comes to under-18s, girls were more likely to spend time on social media, 71% of girls vs 59% of boys (13,14)
  • Boys are more likely to have met up with people who they don’t live with (25% of boys vs 17% of girls) and drink alcohol or use illegal drugs to cope (13,14)
  • A third of young people are using social media to find mental health information and said it was helpful (13,14)
  • Young people aged 18–24 were more likely than any other group to use social media as a source of mental health information – nearly half of 18–24-year-olds did so (13,14)
  • Under-18s who have received free school meals (a proxy for social deprivation) were more likely to be drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs and self-harming, and less likely to exercise, do schoolwork and spend time on social media (13,14)

Top five concerns for young people that made their mental health worse

1 Feeling bored/restless (83%)

2 Not being able to see friends (80%)

3 Not being able to go outside except for essential reasons (76%)

4 Feeling lonely (72%)

5 Feeling anxious about family or friends getting coronavirus (64%)

References:

  1. NHS Digital (2018) Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2017. Available at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2017/2017. Based on 14.4% of 11 to 16-year-olds being identified as having a diagnosable mental health condition. 
  2. NHS Digital (2018) Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2017. Summary of the Key Findings. Available at https://files.digital.nhs.uk/A6/EA7D58/MHCYP%202017%20Summary.pdf
  3. NHS Digital (2018) Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2017. Summary of the Key Findings. Available at https://files.digital.nhs.uk/A6/EA7D58/MHCYP%202017%20Summary.pdf Based on 52.7% of young women reporting having self-harmed or made a suicide attempt. 
  4. Self Harm and Young People, a white Paper (2020) Available at https://cdn.themix.org.uk/uploads/2020/02/Self-Harm-and-Young-People-The-Mix-White-Paper.pdf
  5. Suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (16.2% of all deaths) and girls (13.3%) as reported by Office for National Statistics (2017) ‘Deaths registered in England and Wales’ Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredinenglandandwalesseriesdr/2017#suicide-accounted-for-an-increased-proportion-of-deaths-at-ages-5-to-19-years-in-2017
  6. Fundamental Facts About Mental Health (2015) Available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/fundamental-facts-15.pdf
  7. Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study (2019) Available at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(18)30060-9/fulltext
  8. Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study (2019) Available at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(18)30060-9/fulltext
  9. Rhys Edmonds. Anxiety, Loneliness and Fear of missing out. (2020) Available at https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/blogs/anxiety-loneliness-and-fear-missing-out-impact-social-media-young-peoples-mental-health
  10. NHS Digital (2018) ‘Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017’ Available at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2017/2017. Based on 11 to 19-year olds with a mental disorder were more likely to use social media every day (87.3%) than those without a disorder (77.8%)
  11. Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of Bullying and Cyberbullying by Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and Justin W. Patchin (University of Wisconsin) 2018 Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327167587_Connecting_Adolescent_Suicide_to_the_Severity_of_Bullying_and_Cyberbullying
  12. Why Today’s Teenagers are different from any other previous generation by Jack Duckett. (2019) Available at https://www.mintel.com/blog/consumer-market-news/why-todays-teenagers-are-different-from-any-other-previous-generation
  13. Mind (June 2020) The mental health emergency: how has the coronavirus pandemic impacted our mental health? London: Mind. Available at https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/5929/the-mental-health-emergency_a4_final.pdf
  14. SWEMWBS criteria was used to determine wellbeing score. Find out more about this criteria: https://warwick.ac.uk/ fac/sci/med/research/platform/wemwbs/using/