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It’s no secret that social media can have a profound impact on our mental health.

In fact, according to recent statistics, Instagram is one of the main culprits when it comes to contributing to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

But what are we doing about it?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the impact Instagram has on our mental health by exploring the Instagram and mental health statistics. Stay tuned!

Key Stats

  • Instagram is the #1 worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing according to recent study by Royal Society of Public Health
  • 14 different issues found related to the mental or physical health of Instagram users.
  • Social media engagement increased 61 percent during the first wave of the pandemic. 
  • With over 1 billion users Instagram is one of the most widely used social media platforms in the world 
  • By September 2020, there were 20.7 million posts tagged with #mentalhealth on Instagram and 123 million tagged with #health 
  • From the 205 photos tagged with #mentalhealth, rater A identified 155 females and 95 males.

1.  There was a 61% increase in social media engagement when the first wave on covid-19 ravaged the world in 2020.

(Source: Pen medicine)

COVID-19 limited physical social interactions, thus making people connect online more than ever. Social media has become the only way through which people can remain connected to the outside world and also the only means of getting entertained. (Source: Pen medicine)

2.  Without an Instagram account, site visitors can only scroll through approximately 30 photos before either logging in or refreshing the page and starting anew.

(Source: JMIR)

Instagram is a visual platform, centered around sharing user-generated photos and videos accompanied by captions. Instagram allows users to search for photos by “hashtag.” A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound (#) symbol, which, when typed in the caption of the photo, makes the photo searchable by that term.

3.  By September 2020, posts tagged with #mentalhealth on Instagram were 20.7 million while 123 million were tagged with #health.

(Source: JMIR)

Apart from its popularity for social networking, Instagram is a growing forum for discussing health-related topics. Instagram can be used to analyze the beliefs and attitudes circulating amongst users and it can also allow health care providers to understand its influence on mental health.

4.  African American or non-Hispanic Black patients are treated for depression and anxiety at a rate of 30.6%, compared to 32.9% among the Hispanic or Latino patients, 24.9% non-Hispanic Asian patients, and 49.1% of non-Hispanic white patients.

(Source: JMIR)

Race affects the rate at which patients receive treatment for mental illness. Several risk factors are known that are positively associated with symptoms of depression and racial minorities, chief among which is discrimination, experience anxiety more frequently.

5.  63% of African American students and 52% of white students perceived stigma toward seeking mental health care.

(Source: JMIR)

This is according to a study of attitudes toward mental health treatment conducted among a college-aged student population.

6.  A study on Instagram on a hashtag #mentalhealth topic showed that out of 205 photos tagged with #mentalhealth, 155 were females, 95 males, and 154 were white and 96 were non-white individuals.

(Source: JMIR)

More women than men were rated in the #mentalhealth topic on Instagram.

7.  Of the 209 photos tagged with #health, 141 were females and 120 males, together with 177 white subjects, 83 nonwhite subjects, and 1 subject of unknown race.

(Source: JMIR)

Women continued to lead in #health topics on Instagram.  All three investigators in the study identified significantly more females than males in photos tagged with #mentalhealth while observing no significant difference between genders in photos tagged with #health.

8.  Almost 70% of the 82 participating students in the Transversal analytical research from Lima, Perú survey had depressive symptoms.

(Source: BMC)

Focusing on different types of Instagram use and adolescents’ depressed mood, a longitudinal two-wave panel among 12–19-year-old Flemish adolescents shows that browsing leads to depressed mood and depressed mood leads to a higher posting behavior on Instagram. In contrast, posting is not therapeutic for depression.

9.      The boys’ and girls’ wellbeing is affected at the age of 14, but girls’ mental health drops more after that age.

(Source: BBC)

The mental health of teenagers is damaged by heavy social media use, according to a report by the Education Policy Institute and The Prince’s Trust.  

10.  More than 33% of girls are unhappy with their appearance by the age of 14, compared to 14.3% at the end of primary school.

(Source: BBC)

This is according to a study by the Education Policy Institute and The Prince’s Trust. The statistic shows that as girls continue to grow the number of those who feel unhappy about their appearance increases.

11.  The number of young people with probable mental illness has risen to 16.7% up from 11% in 2017

(Source: BBC)

There has been a continuous increase in the number of youth with some kind of mental illness over the years. Boys in the bottom set at primary school showed lower self-esteem at 14 than their peers. The wellbeing of both genders decreased during adolescence, with the decline being experienced mostly among girls.

(Source: BBC)

12.  About 5% of young people are addicted to Social media

(Source: RSPH)

Social media addiction has been labeled as more addictive than cigarettes. The platforms that are supposed to help young people connect may be fueling a mental health crisis.

13.  One in six young people will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives

(Source: RSPH)

Research has shown that young people themselves say four of the five most used social media platforms make their feelings of anxiety worse. Anxiety is detrimental to a young person’s life. Feeling overwhelming worry and panic can make it hard for young people to leave the house, and do meaningful work such as attending classes or lectures. Research has revealed that young people who heavily use social media by spending more than two hours every day on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression) than those who do not.

14.  Over the past 25 years, there has been a 70% increase in identified rates of anxiety and depression in young people.

(Source: RSPH)

Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) promotes a ‘compare and despair’ attitude in young people. This argument is supported by the findings of a study, commissioned by Anxiety UK.  This study confirmed that social media feeds anxiety and increases feelings of inadequacy.

15.  As many as nine in 10 teenage girls say they are unhappy with their bodies.

(Source: RSPH)

Body image is a concern for many young people, both male, and female, but it mostly affects females in their teens and early twenties. Body image concerns are higher for social media users compared to non-users. This has led to many girls desiring to change their looks through cosmetic surgery

16.  Nearly 70% of 18-24 years olds consider having a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve their appearance.

(Source: RSPH)

The many new photographs uploaded on Instagram provide almost endless potential for young men and women to be drawn into appearance-based comparisons whilst online.

17.  40% of parents do not know what the term Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) means.

(Source: RSPH)

The term is particularly used by young people. FoMO is the worry that social events, or otherwise enjoyable activities, could be taking place without you present to enjoy them. FoMO is a state of mind where one feels the need to be constantly connected with what other people are doing, in order not to miss out. FoMO is associated with lower mood and lower life satisfaction.

Final Thought

Studies have shown that social media contributes a lot to mental health problems among people of all ages. Instagram is believed to have the most negative overall effect on young people’s mental health. This popular photo-sharing app negatively impacts body image and sleep, increases bullying and “FOMO” (fear of missing out), and leads to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, and feeling lonely.



Pen medicine





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