The Royal Society for Public Health asked people aged 14-24 how social media sites made them feel and respondents said Instagram made them feel the worst in terms of wellbeing, especially when it comes to body image.
One participant said it “easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’”.
For every hundred accounts promoting narrow beauty ideals, there are an increasing number of accounts focusing on realness, body positivity and mental health. Here are seven you should definitely be following:
Sad Girls Club is an account run by 27-year-old Elyse Fox (pictured above) to support other young women with depression.
The account’s aim is to create an online mental health community and “ignite conversations amongst millennials worldwide”, by sharing mental health explainers, open letters written by followers, quotes, illustrations and tips for wellness and tackling anxiety.
“We let our members know they are heard and important,” Fox told Paper.
“The best part of our Instagram is the community. I love reading the comments and seeing women from around the world uplift one another.”
Kay Ska is a 21-year-old mental health blogger from north west England, who has suffered with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. She is the founder of MH Stories and a Worth Living ambassador, both mental health awareness projects.
“I’m extremely passionate about spreading mental health awareness,” she writes on her site. “Trying to live a healthy lifestyle and spread as much positivity and love as I possibly can.”
On Instagram, Ska shares mental health quotes as well as body-positive posts about her relationship with her body and the journey she’s been on to get there.
Blogger, vlogger and presenter Grace considers herself the ‘Internet’s big sister’. Her debut book ‘No Filter’ hits shelves in July 2017 and is about her journey to self-acceptance and fighting society’s narrow view of beauty.
The Trembling Of A Leaf / Sacha Justine
Sacha Justine is recovering from an eating disorder and is incredibly vocal about mental health.
Justine lived with anorexia for years, but is now in recovery and often takes photos of her body to show others that it’s possible to heal.
In one of her posts raising awareness of eating disorders, she said: “Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Statistics show that one in five anorexia sufferers take their own lives.
“The next time you say that eating disorders are a joke, a phase, a cute ‘quirk’ or a fashion statement - look up the meaning. You’ll find that EDs are a disease, not a lifestyle choice. Make yourself aware.”
Connie is recovering from anorexia and living with depression. Her Instagram feed is mostly full of bright, colourful and positive images, yet she’s also not afraid to show her vulnerability and discuss her urges to relapse.
Connie uses Instagram as a tool to help in her recovery from anorexia and spread a message to others about body positivity.
Her posts have resonated with many young women.
Beckie Jane Brown battles depression and anxiety, she also suffers with trichotillomania, a condition where she is compelled to pull out her hair.
She strives to create more awareness for her disorder, while trying to bring hope to other sufferers around the world.
When she’s not talking about mental health, she’s cuddling incredibly cute cats or vlogging on YouTube.
“I’ve suffered from depression since I was in secondary school, but it spiralled at the start of the year when my mum passed away,” she previously told HuffPost UK. “I needed a way to get out my feelings in a constructive way.”
Latoya creates self-portraits depicting her emotions and shares them on Instagram.
The talented 25-year-old creates all her artwork on an iPad, using a program “similar to Photoshop” and her finger as a stylus.
Useful websites and helplines:
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393 Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.) Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org