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‘Hidden likes’

Social media’s impact on mental health in Northern Ireland


‘More than a third of young people in Northern Ireland worry they will never be as happy as those they see on social media’ according to a recent study. This is one of the reasons we think Instagram’s trial of hidden likes in 2020 is a good thing. Good for our heads and good for Instagram.


A study by The Prince’s Trust in 2019 listed social media’s impact on society in Northern Ireland as a significant factor in mental health issues among 16-24 year olds.


Hidden likes Social medias impact on mental health in Northern Ireland


Your mental health

Leading therapist Noel McDermott gives us an insight into what happens to your brain using social media:
“Using social media produces a chemical in the brain called dopamine. It can feel good to create and check for likes but it’s a temporary feeling that won’t last. Like with anything that gives too much of a good thing, you start to come down. As soon as you put the phone away you’re going to get irritable – most people don’t even realise this is a symptom of withdrawal. And because it’s a mood-altering chemical, you can even develop anxiety or depression.”


Stormont’s response

Last month the Executive in Belfast said that it will be focusing in on mental well-being as part of a new working group after hundreds of people rallied in a call for more funding for mental health services.
Mental Health campaigner Gary Lightbody is quoted as saying “Northern Ireland has the highest rate of suicide and mental health problems in the UK. We have the same reasons for mental health issues that the rest of the UK has (social media, family stresses, bullying, etc).”

With almost 65% of young people in Northern Ireland believing that social media creates an “overwhelming pressure of expectation” the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland need mental health services fit for the pressures society feels today.



Our guide to better content on Instagram in 2020

  • Posting less-polished content more often. Recent research indicates that the most produced content is getting less engagement. Which means you can spend less time editing.
  • Real life works best. The less produced and more authentic your content is the more positive the engagement can be.
  • Hidden likes is good news. Go forth, be creative and post without fear of the race for likes.


Written by Rory Broughal – Rapid Agency



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