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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Clancy

The Impact of Social Media

I Am Ruth is a stirring film about a mother-daughter relationship and the impact of social media on mental health.

The film offers an honest and authentic portrayal of a mother and daughter’s increasingly strained relationship. Winslet stars as Ruth, a loving and concerned mother who witnesses her teenage daughter Freya (Mia Threapleton) retreating into herself as she becomes more and more consumed by the pressures of social media.

I Am Ruth was developed and co-authored by Dominic Savage and Kate Winslet. The effects of social media on young people is yet to be fully seen, but it’s a crucial issue and Kate Winslet, who also plays the part of Ruth, the mother, has explained that she hopes the film will open up conversation around this and further put agencies into action to protect our young people.

Kate Winslet explains...because young children are having phones at a much earlier age, they’re able to access things that emotionally they’re just not equipped or sophisticated enough to know how to process.”

"I do wish that our government would crack down on it. I do wish that there would be certain platforms that were banned before a certain age. I wish that security checks would be much more rigorous.” There should be "more protection and accountability (because parents) are left flailing".

The film takes into account not only the pressing issue of how young people can get sucked into the often unreal world of social media; but also details depression; self-harm; body dysmorphia and obsessive compulsive disorder. The narrative pays close attention to anxiety and anger - particularly how within the family system feeling states can often get passed around.

Those that have are familiar with my therapeutic stance will know that I am keen to take things back to a biological level - that as animals, we are connected to those around us and we can pick things up, such as moods and emotions, whether we wish to or not: the nervous system of the caregiver directly impacts on the child and vice-versa. Therefore, as a parent, having your own sources of containment, connection and support are vital, this is something Ruth lacks in the film, but the GP does seek to offer her support too.

The film shows how Ruth’s own depressive state and intense, understandable panic impacts on her daughter. Ruth desperately hopes that things will just return to normal by themselves and initially finds it too painful to consider the extent of her daughter’s needs and the requirement for support through other services such as the GP and Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS). It can be very difficult to know when is the right time to reach out, but trusting our primal sense - that gut feeling is important with those you love.

It can be frightening admitting the person you love has some problems; but sensitive practitioners are there to support the parents through the journey too. I always suggest an initial parent meeting, if not multiple meetings, before supporting with the young person, this can help parents talk about any concerns they may have around psychotherapy, what the outcomes may or may not be and what to expect as their child goes through their therapeutic journey.

I am here to listen to any questions you may have and whilst I may not have all the answers my approach seeks to help caregivers feel at ease through the process. We can think together about feelings of shame, blame and fear without judgement or criticism.

I offer support on how to navigate social media and gaming - something that previous generations have not had to take into account. Boundaries are just as important in this element of parenting as they are in others and I offer parenting sessions focusing on these issues.

You can watch the film on Channel 4

If you would like to discuss any of these issues, please feel free to contact Victoria.

I am a child psychotherapist (UKCP Registered); a counsellor; arts and play therapist, covering Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. You can contact me here.

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