Name: Chong Shu Han
Student Number: n7626398
Tutor: Abbey


This picture exemplifies how Facebook has affected the way people socialise and how it has caused social isolation. It depicts the many functions of Facebook, such as sharing photos and allowing friends to be tagged in them. However, the people in the picture, who are Facebook users, are protected by transparent shields that block out real life interactions. It shows that while Facebook allows users to connect with each other by sharing information online, it has affected real life communication and caused them to be disconnected from the real world.

Public Health Issue
Mental health is not simply measured by the absence of mental illness, but a state of emotional and social wellbeing (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). It affects an individual’s ability to cope with the normal stresses of life and social functioning (World Health Organization, 2011). According to the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 45% of Australians aged 16-85 years had, at some point in their life, experienced a mental disorder (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). The prevalence of 12-month mental disorders varies across age groups, with younger people experiencing higher rates of mental disorder (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). 26% of people aged 16-24 years and 25% of people aged 25-34 years had a 12-month mental disorder compared with 5.9% of those aged 75-85 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). The Australian government is investing $2.2 billion over the next 5 years to expand and improve the mental health care system, of which $481 million is targeted at improving the mental health of young people (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). 10 new Headspace centres will also begin operating by the end of 2011 to offer support to youths facing mental health issues (ABC News, 2011). This leaves us to ponder, what is causing the rise in mental health disorders in Generation Y?

Literature Review
Professor Patrick Parkinson believes that family breakdown is a major contributing factor to the rise in mental disorders in youth (ABC News, 2011). Reports of abuse and neglect have increased by 250% and the number of children in out-of-home care has more than doubled between 1997 and 2009 (ABC News, 2011). There has been a 66% increase in the number of children aged 12 to 14 years who hurt themselves intentionally (ABC News, 2011). The number of hospitalisation cases due to self harm among girls aged 15 to 17 years has gone up by 90% (ABC News, 2011). He urges the government to improve couples’ education and parent-child education programs and establish a new fund to help at-risk children (ABC News, 2011). This is further supported by a study conducted by Lewinsohn, Holm-Denoma, Small, Seeley, and Joiner. Lewinsohn et al. (2008) found that childhood separation anxiety disorder was a risk factor for the development of mental disorders during young adulthood with the major vulnerabilities being panic disorder and depression. However, the data collected was based on participant self-report and the study would have been strengthened by interviewing parents regarding childhood separation anxiety disorder symptoms (Lewinsohn et al., 2008). Professor Patrick McGorry also believes that more research needs to be done to strengthen the link between family breakdowns and the wellbeing of young Australians (ABC, 2011).

Technology has caused society to become very fast paced. In many cases, Gen Yers are overwhelmed with heavy workloads in their workplace. Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health and Well-being was analysed to find out the association between perceived work stress and of imbalance between family/personal lives, and depressive and anxiety disorders (Wang, 2006). Work stress and imbalance between work and family/personal lives were found to be independently associated with mood and/or anxiety disorders (Wang, 2006). No interaction was found between perceived work stress and imbalance between work and family/personal lives to increase the likelihood of having mental disorders (Wang, 2006). Imbalance between work and family/personal lives appear to be a stronger predictor for mental disorders than work stress (Wang, 2006). A survey has shown that most Australians are increasingly dissatisfied with the balance between work and life (ABC News, 2010) and this could be a contributing factor to the rise in mental health disorders in Generation Y. However, one limitation of this study is that it is difficult to define work stress (Wang, 2006).

A study was conducted on Chinese adolescents to examine the association between social network status and depressive symptoms (Okamoto, Johnson, Leventhal, Milam, Pentz, Schwartz, & Valente, 2011). It was found that low friend social network was related to depressive symptoms (Okamoto et al., 2011). Although low social network status was found to be a risk factor for depression, it does not follow that high social network status is protective (Okamoto et al., 2011). However, the study did not measure the quality of the reported relationship (Okamoto et al., 2011). Nevertheless, the findings suggest that the effectiveness of programs aimed at preventing adolescent depression could be increased by increasing social integration (Okamoto et al, 2011).

Facebook has become a site where students display their depression symptoms. A study evaluated 200 college students’ Facebook profiles to examine the associations between the display of depression symptoms and Facebook use characteristics (Moreno, Jelenchick, Egan, Cox, Young, Gannon, & Becker, 2011). The findings suggest that college students who were more active on Facebook were more likely to display a reference to depression (Moreno et al., 2011). Also, those who receive response online from their Facebook friends were more likely to discuss their depressive symptoms (Moreno et al., 2011). Since this study evaluated web profiles from only one social networking site and one university, the extent to which these findings could be generalised to other websites or populations is not known (Moreno et al., 2011). However, given the ability to track depression symptoms over time, Facebook provides a way to identify students at risk for depression (Moreno et al., 2011).

Although there are many factors that are affecting the mental health of Generation Y, I would like to draw attention to the use of social networking sites and the effect it has on their mental health. I would discuss this in more detail in the next part of the essay by bringing in Durkheim’s theory of suicide.

Cultural and Social Analysis
The link between social isolation and decreased psychological well-being dates back to Durkheim’s theory of suicide. Durkheim states that suicide is linked to an individual’s level of social integration and his or her ability to deal with the social stress as a result of rapid social change (Willis, Coombs, Cockerham, & Frison, 2002). He posits that suicide levels will increase in times of swift societal change, producing “anomie”, or feelings of normlessness (Willis et al., 2002). He acknowledges that ties are weakened during rapid transitions as individuals are forced to adapt to new circumstances (Willis et al., 2002). Durkheim’s theory of suicide can be used to explain the relationship between social isolation and mental health.

Social networking sites have become a global phenomenon. The use of social networking sites has become increasingly popular among Gen Yers in recent years. 54% of Gen Yers have used one or more social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace (The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 2007). Gen Yers are also more likely than any other generations (21% of Gen Yers compared to 15% of Gen Xers and 3% of those over age 40) to have posted a message to someone else’s personal online profile within the last day (The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 2007). Due to the increase popularity of social networking sites, Gen Yers sometimes experience alienation and become less constrained by social norms. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace do not strengthen relationships between individuals, but instead causes them to replace offline relationships with weak online relationships (Huang, Huang, & Syu, 2010). Online communication does not have social structure like that of a face-to-face interaction (Huang, Huang, & Syu, 2010). Gen Yers are essentially replacing the characteristics of a normal interaction, such as intimacy and emotional intensity, with that of an online interaction, which includes self-presentation and similarity (Huang, Huang, & Syu, 2010). The recent transition from the social interaction of face-to-face contact to the dense online network of unregulated weak ties has caused Generation Y to become isolated, disengaged and anomic (Huang, Huang, & Syu, 2010). This is probably one of the contributing factors to the increase in mental health disorders in Generation Y.

Social isolation - a low level of interaction and loneliness - was more common in people who are affected by mental illness (Sane Australia, 2005). According to a survey conducted on people affected by mental illness, almost 90% of them regarded social relationships to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in managing one’s mental illness (Sane Australia, 2005). This goes to show that social relationships are important for good mental health for all people, including those recovering from mental illness. However, the increase popularity of social networking sites is a cause of concern as they can cause isolation and disengagement among Gen Yers. Public health campaigns therefore need to tackle social isolation and increase social integration to decrease the prevalence of mental health disorders in Generation Y.

Analysis of Artefact and Reflections
Social networking sites continue to proliferate and grow in popularity worldwide. The picture above perfectly articulates how Facebook has impacted on the way we socialise. While it can enhance feelings of social connectedness by allowing users to share information online, it may provide Gen Yers a false sense of connection that ultimately increases social isolation. Under the illusion of allowing them to communicate better, it is actually isolating them from real human interactions. This can have a negative impact on the mental health of Generation Y as research has shown that social isolation is one of the contributing factors to the rise in mental disorders.

Being an individual from Generation Y, it really amazes me how social networking sites have impacted on the way we socialise. Although social networking sites allow individuals to expand their social network and establish or maintain connections with others, they have devalued the quality of human interaction. During my research, I also found many articles discussing a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression”. Social networking sites such as Facebook have magnified people’s lives, with in-your-face friends’ status updates and photos. They can make it particularly tough for youths who are already dealing with low self-esteem and this can trigger depression. It was through this assignment that I became more aware of the mental health status of Generation Y within Australia. There is a possibility that the mental health of Generation Y will continue to deteriorate with so many factors contributing to the increase in mental health disorders and I believe that the strongest predictor is social isolation. However, with increased efforts from the government and social support from the public, I believe that the mental health of Generation Y will gradually improve. I hope to see more mental health programs improving social integration among Gen Yers in the near future.

ABC News. (2010). Australians unhappy with work-life balance: survey. Retrieved from

ABC News. (2011). Youth mental illness linked to family breakdowns. Retrieved from

ABC News. (2011). $3m pledged for new Headspace centres. Retrieved from

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results. Retrieved from$File/43260_2007.pdf

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). Mental health. Retrieved from

Commonwealth of Australia. (2011). Delivering better hospitals, mental health and health services. Retrieved from

Huang, J. J., Huang, M. Y., & Syu, F. K. (2010). Liberated anomie in Generation Next: Hyperindividualism, extreme consumerism, and social isolationism. Fooyin Journal of Health Sciences, 2(2), 41-47. doi: 10.1016/S1877-8607(10)60013-6

Lewinsohn, P. M., Holm-Denoma, J. M., Small, J. W., Seeley, J. R., Joiner, T. E. (2008). Seperation anxiety disorder in childhood as a risk factor for future mental illness. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(5), 548-555. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e31816765e7

Moreno, M. A., Jelenchick, L. A., Egan, K. G., Cox, E., Young, H., Gannon, K. E., & Becker, T. (2011). Feeling bad on Facebook: Depression disclosures by college students on a social networking site. Depression and Anxiety, 28(6), 447-455. doi: 10.1002/da.20805

Okamoto, J., Johnson, C. A., Leventhal, A., Milam, J., Pentz, M. A., Schwartz, D., & Thomas, W. V. (2011). Social network status and depression among adolescents: An examination of social network influences and depressive symptoms in a Chinese sample. Research in Human Development, 8(1), 67-88. doi: 10.1080/15427609.2011.549711

Sane Australia. (2005). Mental illness and social isolation. Retrieved from

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. (2007). How Young People View Their Lives, Future and Politics: A Portrait of “Generation Next”. Retrieved from

Willis, L. A., Coombs, D. W., Cockerham, W. C., & Frison, S. L. (2002). Ready to die: A postmodern interpretation of the increase of African-American adolescent male suicide. Social Science & Medicine, 55(6), 907-920. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00235-0

World Health Organization. (2010). Mental health: strengthening our response. Retrieved from

Page: 'Children Waiting For The Day They Feel Good' - The Salience of Depression in Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Firstly, I must say that I enjoyed reading your wiki and I love how your artefact clearly articulates the symptoms of depression. The statistics you have presented is truly alarming. Great research done in your literature review!

In your essay, you mentioned that the excessive use of internet may serve to perpetuate isolation and depressed mood. I feel that the increase usage of social networking sites can also contribute to isolation. Individuals are replacing offline relationships with weak online relationships and this has caused them to be disengaged in the real world.

Page: Each time you sleep with someone, you're also sleeping with his past
I must say I love the title of your wiki. It sends a very powerful message with just a few words.

I agree that the media has a large part to play in the rise in STIs. Sexual images are used in advertising to draw interest to a particular product. With the sheer volume of sexual content in the media today, we are likely to have a casual attitude towards sex, and dismissive of equating sex with commitment and consequences.