Mental health: the role of media literacy – A study by Ofcom (UK)

posted on 12 June, 2023   (public)

Impact of online life on mental health: what could be the role of media literacy?

As part of the Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK – from 15 to 21 May 2023 –, UK regulator Ofcom has published a study "Listening to experts: Mental health and media literacy", exploring the role online media literacy can play in supporting people’s mental health.

Driven by the outputs of the Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes 2023 report[1], the regulator intends to explore the intersections between mental health and media literacy and to learn more about the organisations involved in this field.

Based on desktop research and information gathered through its media literacy network "Making Sense of Media", Ofcom has identified four principles that apply to mental health and media literacy, each time illustrated by real-world case studies of projects and initiatives being carried out by 14 mental health services, charities and other community organisations across the UK:

  • Principle 1: We no longer go online - we are online.
  • Principle 2: Online spaces can nourish us and contribute to good mental health.
  • Principle 3: The most helpful approaches are led by the needs of the user.
  • Principle 4: The rapid pace of change means we are all learning as we go.

The study shows the potential positive role of good media literacy in supporting mental health, notably in knowing how to access help and support and building digital resilience.

With this study, Ofcom aims at promoting further media literacy initiatives and providing relevant information to policy makers and practitioners.

Source: Ofcom (UK)

[1] The report highlights the role played by online navigation to support mental health: “the majority of people who use the internet had been online to support their wellbeing, and this finding was even more true among younger adults (aged 16 to 24)”.


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