A mixture of people of different ages looking at their mobile phones, each with a different expression on their face.

New Ofcom study explores how media literacy can support mental health

Published: 15 May 2023
Last updated: 31 May 2023

As Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway, Ofcom has today published a study exploring the role online media literacy can play in supporting people’s mental health.

The report highlights real-world case studies of media literacy projects and initiatives being carried out by 14 mental health services, charities and other community organisations across the UK:

  • Boys’ Biggest Conversation
  • Care Opinion
  • The Female Lead
  • Fostering Digital Skills – Internet Matters
  • Greater Manchester Social Switch
  • Kooth
  • Mixy and Chill – Taraki
  • Samaritans
  • Self Esteem Team
  • SHaRON
  • The Hive
  • Passion 4 Fusion
  • Worth Warrior

Each of the initiatives is designed to help people from a particular group or community to build digital literacy and resilience skills to address a particular mental health challenge. Some of the issues tackled include body image, suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

During the study, we spoke to people running online support services, mental health practitioners, as well as people participating in a range of initiatives. They speak frankly about their lived experiences, the multi-faceted challenges they face, how they’ve tackled them, and what others can learn.

The key learning from our study is that good media literacy can and does support positive mental health; importantly that means knowing how to easily access help and support, as well as having the tools and confidence to navigate and manage online risks. Ofcom’s media literacy research reveals that a majority of people who use the internet have been online to support their wellbeing, and this is particularly true among younger people (aged 16 to 24).

In sharing this study, we aim to further the conversation around the intersection between mental health and media literacy. We hope it will help to generate ideas and promote further opportunities for action, and offer useful information to policymakers and those organisations involved in delivering, funding and commissioning similar projects and initiatives.

To find out more about our media literacy work, visit the Making Sense of Media area of our website.

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