Mental Health and Social Media

Compare and despair.

It's a phrase that sums up the effect social media can have, particularly on our young people. More and more spend part of each day comparing their lives with those of celebrities and friends whose Instagram feeds apparently show unbridled joy and success.

And it's putting pressure on those who feel, however incorrectly, that they somehow don't measure up.

The images on social media are often misleading of course. But for young people already facing a cocktail of anxieties over body image, popularity and exams it can make matters worse.

I believe it's common sense that social media is playing a part in what feels like a rising tide of mental health problems, particularly in adolescence. And it's affecting Cheltonians.

Only this month, I was contacted by a student who has shown the courage and initiative to campaign to raise awareness of the problem among her peers.

As a country we're ramping up our response. Important voices across politics have made key contributions, and I have great respect for Norman Lamb's excellent advocacy.

This week I was pleased to support the announcement by the PM of investment of millions of pounds into treatment, from psychiatric liaison services in A&E to radically shorter waiting times for teenagers with eating disorders.

More people will be treated, and more quickly. And while we are not yet at the promised land of 'parity of esteem' between physical and mental health, we're heading in the right direction.

In other news, I have decided to take up the cause of women who experience the distress of infants being unable to breast-feed due to babies being born with tissue tethering the bottom of their tongue's tip to the floor of the mouth.

That's 'tongue tie' to you and me. In the past the problem was usually fixed by a midwife's fingernail. Nowadays that technique is frowned upon (!) but I've heard too many stories of delays in fixing this simple issue. Mothers can be left anxious, miserable and even depressed. I want to see care improved.

I was also delighted to join staff at the opening of the excellent Sexual Health Clinic in Milsom Street.

I also met with a local internet service provider to examine technical alternatives for providing superfast broadband for those left behind by BT and Virgin. And I was particularly pleased to join Cheltenham's Wombles, pictured, to support their superb efforts to clear the Bath Road car park of rubbish on Sunday. Citizen activism in action!