Infectious Disease

HHS to establish center of excellence on social media, mental wellness

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures:
Becerra and Delphin-Rittmon report no relevant financial disclosures.

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HHS, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has announced that it will provide $2 million in funding to establish a national center of excellence on social media and mental wellness.

The HHS said in a press release that the center will develop and disseminate information, guidance and training on the impact that social media use has on children and youth, while focusing on risks to their mental health.

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“In the past decade, the number of children and youth diagnosed with mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, has significantly increased, concurrent with significant increases in the amount of time children and youth are spending on social media,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the release.

Additionally, the center will assess clinical and social interventions that may be used to mitigate mental health risks. According to the release, social media can be associated with negative mental health outcomes, and those in pediatric populations are particularly vulnerable.

“We are concerned for the mental health of our children and youth,” HHS assistant secretary Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, said in the release. “We know from research that some social media can be harmful to children’s and youths’ mental well-being. We expect this new center will highlight best practices and guide us in protecting young people.”

The center of excellence will focus on three priorities:

  • education and resources around the risks and benefits of social media use for children and youth;
  • culturally and linguistically appropriate technical assistance focusing on active learning, consultation and support on how to best assist children and youth to enhance their mental health; other
  • best practices and research updates.

“While there are benefits to social media use, there are clearly risks, too — especially when it comes to mental health,” Becerra said. “This new center will help us better protect children and youth from these harms.”

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