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Children, young people and families

Children, young people and mental health: communicating in an online world

The following article has been produced by Rosie Horne, who recently joined our Policy Team here at The British Psychological Society.

26 January 2018

By BPS Policy Unit

Having (very!) recently joined the Society as a Policy Advisor, the first event I helped to support was an evening reception at the House of Commons, on Children, Young People and Mental Health: Communicating in an Online World.

This event marked the collaboration between the British Psychology Society (BPS) and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and aimed to bring together parliamentarians, practitioners and policy makers interested in children and young people and the impact of social media and digital technology, on their mental health.

It was an incredible setting, steeped with history, and I had to keep reminding myself that not every venue would be quite like this one!

The event itself was well attended by a range of interested and influential people and hosted by Dr Lisa Cameron MP. Her passion and interest in the subject was immediately evident as she talked about her experiences not just as a Clinical Psychologist but also as a mother to two children growing up in a digital world.

Speakers included two psychologists from the University of Salford, Dr Adam Galpin and Dr Gemma Taylor, who had been commissioned by the BPS to carry out research into changing screen use behaviour. Their Changing Behaviour briefing provided recommendations about how to encourage positive outcomes from digital media use.

Lisa Cameron then offered to put forward an Early Day Motion (EDM) to call for debate in Westminster about the research findings from the briefing. 

Victoria Betton, founder and Director of mHabitat, an NHS hosted organisation which supports people-centred digital innovation in health and care, shared how adults have a lot to offer young people when it comes to digital media.

Finally a personal account was provided by Emma Wilson about her use of social media and its impact on her mental health. 

In between talks and presentations I managed to speak to Paula Sheriff, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care and Virginia Bottomley, politician and previous Secretary of State.

Discussions and networking continued well into the evening as House of Commons staff cleared up around us. This was clearly an important subject that interested and affected people from a range of backgrounds, experiences and professions, and what was evident to me was how this event had brought all of these people together in a setting, where for hundreds of year’s important decisions, changes and movements had started.

This event is the first of many to be organised by the BPS and MHF, so stay tuned. I look forward to seeing where I end up next! 

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