Calls for Facebook to pay mental health levy for causing anxiety, stress

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Calls have been made to introduce a mental health levy for social media sites to combat the growing issue. Source: Getty

There are new calls for Facebook and Instagram to contribute financially to the treatment of mental health problems in a bid to crack down on damage caused by the social media platforms.

In response to the rise of depression and anxiety among social media users, Britain’s National Health System (NHS) boss has called for the introduction of a mental health levy, urging government ministers to consider placing a tax on the social media giants, The Telegraph reports.

Whether it’s from cyber bullying or the unrealistic expectations created by social media users who display seemingly perfect lives, there is no doubt the sites are having an impact on all generations. And with the ever growing number of people constantly attached to their phones, it certainly is a cause for concern.

In fact, according to research by youth mental health support service ReachOut, 45 per cent of parents of kids aged 12 to 18 are worried about the impact social media may have on them.

Similarly, 42 per cent of those in the study worried about technology as a whole, compared to just 25 per cent saying drugs, alcohol and smoking are their primary concern.

Speaking at the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London recently, NHS boss Simon Stevens said now is the time to take action against the issue, and it’s platforms such as Facebook and Instagram that need to take the lead.

“We now need to consider collectively what else social media platforms, which have expanded faster than regulations’ ability to respond, need to do to help stem the tide of mental ill health in this country and others, or at least help pick up the pieces,” The Telegraph reports he said at the event.

“In other industries where there are adverse consequences from commercial activities, each service contributes a proportion of its turnover to an organisation or cause intended to mitigate adverse side-effects, or to offset harm.”

It’s undoubtedly a shift from past generations, when the internet didn’t even exist, and these fresh fears couldn’t possibly have featured. But according to Stevens the problem will only increase unless something such as a mental health levy is introduced to help combat the issue.

“Social media firms have a duty of care to their customers and need to step up to the plate to protect people’s mental health,” he said. 

What are your thoughts on introducing a mental health levy? Do you think it is something that should be adopted? 

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