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Safer Internet Centre

Do you have a cyberbullying or digital safety concern?

helpline@saferinternet.org.uk 0844 381 4772

Healthcare Professionals

Key advice for those working in the health sector - including GPs, school and community nurses and child and adolescent mental health professionals - to help them understand the impact of digital technologies on young people and their mental health in particular.

It is vital that health professionals:

  • have a knowledge of the latest online threats, risks and trends in online communications and social networking
  • understand the impact of technology and new and emerging apps and trends have on the health of young people and their relationships 
  • encourage and support young people to develop healthy relationships with technology and manage their mental health
  • consider the use of technology by parents and carers which may impact on family life
  • include relevant questions in assessments and when treating patients to gain an understanding of the role of technology in their lives

Below we set out some FAQs and some key resources

FAQs

How can I understand the latest technologies and trends?

We have some helpful guides to the most popular social media services and you can also see the NSPCC's NetAware guide

You can also sign up to our newsletter which will share our latest blogs and highlight new trends. 

For the latest research, see this series of research summaries, created by the Evidence Group of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. 

Where can I find out more about the impact of technology on mental health and wellbeing?

The Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement have  produced the #StatusOfMind report which looks at the positive and negative effects that social media is having on young people.

Young Minds is a charity that helps young people manage their mental health. They are running a campaign called ‘Life on the Web’ to look at the challenges and benefits of growing up with the internet and tackle problems like cyberbullying and online privacy that can threaten mental health and wellbeing.

Health Talk is a website which provides information about health issues, by sharing people’s real-life experiences. They have two particular articles which discuss the influence of the internet for young people experiencing mental health issues and those suffering from bereavement due suicide.

How can I best support young people with their online lives?

The key to helping young people online is to listen to them and offer support. There are a range of issues a young person may face online and come to you for help with.

Cyberbullying is still a big concern for many young people online and we have seen this through Childline’s annual reports. Childnet International has produced Cyberbullying Guidance for schools which may offer some useful information in terms of key behaviours and strategies.   

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a report on ‘Managing self-harm in young people’. The report looks at the issue in detail with a particular focus on the internet from page 25 onwards.

The Royal College of Nursing has produced guidance to help victims of domestic abuse keep themselves safe and seek help online.  

Where can young people go for support and advice?

Young people often prefer to look for information online so may ask you to recommend an app or website.

The NHS has developed the NHS GO app with young people for young people. The app and website are designed to help them find clear and reliable information about their health and locate their local services and support.

We would also recommend signposting young people to services like Childline, The Mix and Young Minds for advice and support. 

Where can I go for specialist advice about online safeguarding incidents?

If you are unsure what to do you can contact our helpline, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline, on 0344 381 4772 or helpline@saferinternet.org.uk.

We have more advice about where you can report and seek further advice on our Need Help page.

Where can I get training about online safety?

There are different training opportunities available both online and offline to help you.

You can attend Online Safety Live training run by SWGfL, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre. This is a programme of events designed to develop the knowledge of professionals working with young people about latest trends, the biggest trends and best resources. 

MindED is an online training platform funded by the Department of Health and Department for Education. It focus’ on children and young people’s mental health and offers advice on a huge variety of topics.

How can I protect my own professional reputation when using social media?

It is important to consider what you share on social media and who you share it with. You can use our social media guides to learn about managing your privacy on social media and read our Professional Reputation guide for more information about strategies for managing your online reputation.

How can I use technology to improve the care I offer my patients?

You may wish to use audio or video recording to improve patient care. The recordings could be

  • part of a patient’s care
  • for teaching, training, or assessment of health professionals and students
  • for research and development
  • for use in widely accessible public media, such as on the internet or broadcast on radio or television.

There is full guidance from the General Medical Council on how to use audio or video recording in partnership with your patient and a supporting summary document