Social media-based interventions for adolescent and young adult mental health: A scoping review

Kaylee Payne Kruzan*, Kofoworola D.A. Williams, Jonah Meyerhoff, Dong Whi Yoo, Linda C. O'Dwyer, Munmun De Choudhury, David C. Mohr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Mental health conditions are common among adolescents and young adults, yet few receive adequate mental health treatment. Many young people seek support and information online through social media, and report preferences for digital interventions. Thus, digital interventions deployed through social media have promise to reach a population not yet engaged in treatment, and at risk of worsening symptoms. Objective: In this scoping review, we aimed to identify and review empirical research on social media-based interventions aimed at improving adolescent and young adult mental health. A secondary objective was to identify the features and functionalities of platforms described as social media. Methods: Adhering to the PRISMA-ScR guidelines for scoping reviews, the search was conducted in PubMed MEDLINE; Embase Central Register of Controlled Trials (Wiley); PsycINFO (Ebsco); Scopus; Web of Science; IEEE Xplore; ACM Digital Library; and from inception until November 2021. Studies were included if they involved adolescents or young adults (10–26 years of age) that meet clinical, or subclinical, levels of a mental health condition and include a pre- and post-assessment of mental health outcomes. Results: Among the 18,380 references identified, 15 met full inclusion criteria and were published between 2017 and 2021–this included four randomized controlled trials, seven non-randomized pre-post trials, and four were experimental or quasi-experimental designs. Just five studies were delivered through an existing social media site (Facebook or Pixtori), with the remainder focused on purpose-built networks. Three studies involved adolescents or young adults who self-reported a mental health condition, seven involved young people diagnosed with a mental health condition by a clinician or who scored above a clinical threshold on valid clinical measure, three involved college students without a mental health inclusion criterion, and two studies focused on young people with a cancer diagnosis. Conclusions: The review highlights innovations in the delivery of mental health interventions, provides preliminary evidence of the ability of social media interventions to improve mental health outcomes, and underscores the need for, and merit of, future work in this area. We discuss opportunities and challenges for future research, including the potential to leveragei existing peer networks, the use of just-in-time interventions, and scaling interventions to meet need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100578
JournalInternet Interventions
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Adolescent
  • Intervention
  • Mental health
  • Social media
  • Social networking
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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