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In brief: No 'smoking gun' linking internet use with poor mental health

An image of someone surfing the internet on their laptop
John Schnobrich | Unsplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

Oxford University study finds no ‘smoking gun’ to suggest internet use harms mental health

A major international study conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute challenges assumptions about the negative psychological impacts of internet technologies.

The research, based on data from two million individuals aged 15 to 89 in 168 countries, found smaller and less consistent associations between internet adoption and psychological well-being than expected.

The study covers the period from 2005 to 2022 and reveals only small and inconsistent changes in global well-being and mental health over the last two decades.

While the results suggest the links between internet adoption and psychological well-being are small, the researchers highlighted the need for more data from technology companies for conclusive evaluations to be made on the influence of the internet on mental health.

Young LGBTQ+ people with disabilities at greater risk of suicide

A report by The Trevor Project, a national suicide prevention nonprofit serving LGBTQ+ youth, reveals that young LGBTQ+ people with disabilities face higher rates of mental health issues and are at greater risk of suicide compared with their non-disabled peers.

The study surveyed over 28,500 LGBTQ+ individuals aged 13 to 24, with 7,780 identifying as disabled.

The findings indicate that discrimination based on disabilities significantly contributes to the elevated risks faced by this group, with 68% reporting experiences of discrimination in 2023.

Rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and self-harm were all higher for disabled LGBTQ+ youth compared with their non-disabled counterparts.

The report emphasises the importance of therapists understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by this demographic, as 42% of disabled LGBTQ+ youth reported feeling as though their therapist did not understand their disability.

Research finds that belief in treatment influences its effectiveness for depression and anxiety

A study by the University of Surrey has found that a patient's beliefs about their treatment for ADHD or depression have a significant impact on its effectiveness.

The research analysed five distinct studies on neurostimulation treatments, revealing that patients' beliefs about whether they received real treatment or a placebo significantly explained treatment outcomes in four out of five studies.

Surprisingly, in some instances, these subjective beliefs were more influential than the actual treatment itself.

The intensity assumptions about the treatment also emerged as a significant contributor to its efficacy.

RSABI commences launch of ‘Thrive Wellbeing’ digital mental health app

The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) is launching the Thrive Wellbeing app, a digital mental health service aimed at supporting farmers.

This follows a 12-month pilot project with three young farmers clubs and a collaboration with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) well-being and development committee.

The app includes features such as access to a live in-app chat with qualified therapists, and resources on mindfulness, techniques for relaxation, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Study investigating mental health inequalities announced

Several universities, led by Oxford University and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), are collaborating on the Co-Pics study, which aims to address mental health inequalities.

The £1.7 million study will focus on individuals living with psychosis and other long-term physical health conditions.

Engaging 80 people with psychosis, 40 carers, and health professionals, the study aims to understand experiences and develop ways to improve care in diverse groups of individuals with multi-morbidity.


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