Harnessing the Potential of Social Media to Develop the Next Generation of Digital Health Treatments in Youth Mental Health


Purpose of review

This narrative review presents a summary of current research regarding the impact of social networking sites (SNS) on the health and well-being of young people. The review consolidates research on the following topics: risks and benefits associated with SNS use by young people with anxiety and depression, and psychosis respectively; an outline of eOrygen’s Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST) platform; and a discussion of the ways in which research in the digital health field inform the design and delivery of the MOST intervention.

Recent findings

Recent findings in the digital health field suggest that it is necessary to take a nuanced approach when examining the impact of SNS on the health and well-being of young people. The effects of social media can be influenced by a range of factors, which may include the type of interaction, the ethos underpinning the SNS, and the personal attributes of the user.


The digital health field is working to harness the popularity of SNS among young people and incorporate it into the design of custom therapeutic digital platforms. One such example is eOrygen’s Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST). MOST is underpinned by a clear and innovative positive psychology framework and is designed to bring about long-term social and functional recovery in youth mental health. MOST aims to leverage young people’s interest in social media, while explicitly addressing and working to minimise the negative pitfalls of commercial SNS, thus maximising the potential for therapeutic benefit, while working to minimise negative impacts to the user. The overarching purpose of MOST is to revolutionise young people’s access to, and engagement with, therapeutic digital interventions and to improve mental health outcomes for young people overall.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lee Valentine MSocWk, BA.

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Lee Valentine, Carla McEnery, Simon D’Alfonso, Jess Phillips, Eleanor Bailey, and Mario Alvarez-Jimenez declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Technology and its Impact on Mental Health Care

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Valentine, L., McEnery, C., D’Alfonso, S. et al. Harnessing the Potential of Social Media to Develop the Next Generation of Digital Health Treatments in Youth Mental Health. Curr Treat Options Psych 6, 325–336 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40501-019-00184-w

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  • Social media
  • Young people
  • Youth mental health
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Social networking sites