Social networking sites such as Facebook could be contributing to depression in young people a ground breaking study has revealed.
The number of students suffering from mental health issues is on the rise, and now research at the University of Missouri suggests Facebook may contribute to higher levels of depression.
"Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives," researcher Margaret Duffy, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, told the Denver Post.
"However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship - things that cause envy among users - use of the site can lead to feelings of depression," she said.
The survey of 736 college students found Facebook use can trigger feelings of envy which were found to predict depression symptoms.
The report adds: "The effect of surveillance use of Facebook on depression is mediated by feelings of envy. Surveillance use of Facebook has a direct link to depression, but the link is actually negative."
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Young Minds offers information to young people about mental health and emotional wellbeing
- Students Against Depression, a website by students, for students.
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pmand 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
- HeadMeds - a straight-talking website on mental health medication
- Student Minds supports students across the UK to bring about positive change on their campuses through campaigning and facilitating peer support programmes. To join the community or launch a student group contact the charity on firstname.lastname@example.org