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Suffolk Libraries ‘Social Media Shhhut down’ for Mental Health Awareness Week

Suffolk Libraries, the charity that runs the library service in Suffolk is asking people to give themselves a break from social media for Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from 9 to 15 May.

The campaign also aims to raise funds to help Suffolk Libraries do more to support people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The idea is inspired by the author Matt Haig’s book Notes on a Nervous Planet which explores how social media impacts our mental health and wellbeing. The aim is for people to give themselves a week-long digital detox and stay away from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok or Twitter for the week, whilst helping to raise funds to support Suffolk Libraries at the same time.

Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries said:

“Suffolk’s libraries are no longer spaces where you will be told to shhh, as we celebrate the importance of talking, laughing, and sharing activities together. Outside of our spaces we also know that social media plays an important part in helping us and our community stay connected.

“However, this campaign aims to draw attention to the dangers of social media becoming all-consuming for some people and how it can present an unrealistic and photoshopped picture of the world. This can have a negative impact on people’s mental health and self-esteem.

“Taking a break can be beneficial for some people to help them press the re-set button. It’s also a great opportunity for us to generate awareness and support for the work we do to improve people’s wellbeing across our charity.”

Jon Neal, Chief Executive of Suffolk Mind also supports the idea, adding:

“While there can be benefits to being connected to a virtual community, there are also many downsides to using social media, and smart devices, in general to try and get our emotional needs met.

“At Suffolk Mind we refer to mobile phones and tablets as ‘attention harvesting devices’, because they literally harvest your attention and take it away from the people around you. And social media is something that many people access on their attention harvesting device, so we’re very supportive of this campaign to encourage people to shut down their social media for a week and focus on other ways to interact with people to meet emotional needs and protect their mental health.

YoungMinds have looked specifically at the benefits of a social media detox for younger people with one of their bloggers stating:

"We bounce from one social media app to another, mindlessly scrolling, double-tapping and comparing ourselves to others, and it can feel hard to break this cycle".

The Centre For Mental Health adds that "data from qualitative studies has shown that using social media compulsively can damage sleeping patterns".

If you feel that you or your children might benefit from a break from social media for a week and would like to raise money to support Suffolk Libraries at the same time, you can register for a sponsorship form.

Kesgrave High School have already been supporting the idea, welcoming Suffolk Libraries to the school this week to talk to Year 9 pupils about the challenge. Suffolk Libraries would love to hear from any other schools interested in the idea.

Suffolk Libraries has been running the county’s library service for nearly ten years. Suffolk Libraries plays a crucial role in tackling social isolation and improving wellbeing in the community, through regular drop-in sessions, social activities, lifeline calls, the home library service or by signposting people to other organisations who can help.

As a charity, Suffolk Libraries needs to fundraise to continue this vital work across Suffolk.

Find out more about our health and wellbeing service.