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The influence of influencers

Exploring how the stories told by social media influencers impact the mental health of young people.

Project overview

We are teaming up with researchers from the University of Birmingham, the University of Nottingham and Aston University on a new project exploring how the stories told by social media influencers impact the mental health of young people.  

 In this project, we will analyse the stories about mental health told by social media influencers and work with young people to develop ways for young people to evaluate and respond to this content.

We will do this by working with young people to collect and analyse current social media content on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. We will then look at the impact this content has on young people through holding focus groups, interviews and workshops.

Finally, we will work with young people to produce materials that will help young people navigate mental health information provided by influencers in the world of social media. 

Project details

Social media influencers are among the most frequently followed accounts by young people in the UK.

Mental health is often a topic discussed by mental health influencers via videos on platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram and YouTube.

These videos often talk about mental health experiences in powerful ways with varying amounts of facts, information, and personal stories.

We know very little about the quality of information influencers provide and the impact these stories have on young people’s knowledge, emotions, attitudes and behaviours (we call this mental health literacy)

This research is important to help us understand social media influencers and their role in mental health for young people.  

This project will have a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) who will be involved in the project throughout to ensure that the research and outputs are relevant, accessible and meaningful for other young people.

The group will be made up of  12 young people aged 16-25 with lived experience of mental health issues and experience of using and engaging with social media and social media influencers.

Throughout the project they will work on:  

  • Advising on areas and topics of mental health for the research team to investigate, for example, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety.  
  • Advising on the types of influencers and social media platforms the research team should investigate. 
  • Designing and consulting on interview and focus group questions for the researchers to ask young people about what they find helpful or difficult from the stories told by mental health influencers.  
  • Co-producing writing and stories to help aid conversation about ‘what are the rights and responsibilities of sharing stories about mental health on social media’. 
  • Co-developing and co-designing on resources to help improve mental health literacy.  
  • Advising and getting involved to produce outputs for the study, such as: research papers, conference papers, a short form book, social media campaigns and digital showcases.  
  • And more! 

Get in touch on [email protected] for more information.

Work with us

We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.