In the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report, 1,479 young people (aged 14-24) scored different social media apps on their impact on depression, anxiety, loneliness, bullying and body image.
On the flipside, YouTube was voted as having the best impact on mental health. Twitter was next, followed by Facebook. Snapchat was at the bottom of the list.
“Social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis," the report concluded.
Why are some apps worse than others?
"It is interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people," said Shirley Cramer, CEO of the RSPH.
What can be done to improve mental health online?
A BBC report outlined several initiatives to make social apps more accountable for their mental health impact.
RSPH and the Young Health Movement also want governments to step in, to ensure social media are more positive places for people with mental health issues.
This includes pop-ups alerting users to time spent on sites, apps sending users with mental health problems tools and information for getting support, and retouched photos being identified so users know when images have been digitally altered.
As Cramer said, “Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health.”