Dove Takes a Stand Against One of the Most Prominent Threats to Children’s Mental Health in Today’s Society

  • Social media’s toxic beauty content currently impacts the mental health of 1 in 2 kids.
  • According to more than 8 in 10 youth mental health specialists, social media is fuelling a mental health crisis amongst young people.
  • Singer/Songwriter, Self Esteem, and Dove have together partnered with Parenting Mental Health, Global Action Plan, 5 Rights and Girlguiding to take action to support the mental health of young people.

Dove has recently announced new actions to address the current rise in youth mental health issues linked to social media. New research from the Dove Self-Esteem Project reveals 9 in 10 kids are exposed to toxic beauty content on social media. As a result, this harmful content is impacting the mental health of 1 in 2 kids.

Dove is bringing together NGO partners Parenting Mental Health, Global Action Plan, 5Rights, and Girlguiding to provide access to mental health resources for young people, and work to make social media safer for kids.

The new 2023 Dove Self-Esteem Project Research for Kids Online Safety found:

  • Over 8 in 10 youth mental health specialists say social media is fuelling a mental health crisis among young people.
  • More than half of kids say social media makes them and their peers feel anxious.
  • 9 in 10 youth mental health specialists say exposure to harmful beauty content on social media can lead to physical consequences, like disordered eating or self-harm.
  • 8 in 10 parents say the impact of social media on mental health is worrying.

Since 2004, Dove has been building body confidence and self-esteem in young people through the Dove Self-Esteem Project and to-date, has educated more than 94 million kids globally. Most recently, Dove has been working to challenge damaging social media practices that perpetuate unattainable beauty standards. However, the current rise in mental health issues linked to social media is alarming, and we need to go further.

“Dove has a long-term commitment to bring about positive change in beauty and taking action towards making social media a more positive place with campaigns like, #NoDigitalDistortion, Reverse Selfie/Selfie Talk, and #DetoxYourFeed.  While certain aspects of social media can promote creativity and connection for young people, data has shown toxic beauty content online is harming our kids’ mental health. If there isn’t real change, young people will continue to pay with their wellbeing.” explains Alessandro Manfredi, Chief Marketing Officer for Dove. “We have a responsibility to act and support a more positive environment on social media, helping protect young people’s mental health. This means going beyond individual interventions to drive systemic change”.

Dove will fund access to mental health resources and support organisations that are working to improve young people’s mental health and make social media safer at the design level. Specifically:

  • In partnership with Maudsley Charity, Dove will fund the world-leading Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People – a new facility that will protect the mental health of some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people experiencing anxiety, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. The Maudsley Charity’s Change the Story campaign is supporting the work of the new Centre.
  • In partnership with Parenting Mental Health, Dove will make access to support services and advocates more accessible for parents whose kids are navigating mental health challenges.
  • Dove will support organisations like Global Action Plan, 5Rights, Girlguiding and Parenting Mental Health who are raising awareness of harmful features on social media to encourage new design standards that will make social media safer for kids.

“We know social media can have both positive and challenging effects on mental wellbeing. Young people, especially when they are at high risk in terms of their mental health, are vulnerable to some of the most concerning aspects of social media. It is crucial that we fully understand the impact this has and offer the right support to ensure that young people use the internet healthily,” says Dr Bruce Clark, Clinical Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. “Now more than ever, we have a responsibility to our children to change the story on mental health. This means better understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental ill health. Working in partnership with young people, families, and schools, we are committed to understanding the causes and delivering evidence based, effective programmes early young people’s lives when they have the best chance of making a difference.”

As part of the campaign, Dove is releasing a new film, Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film, that explores the real-life consequences of harmful beauty content to raise awareness and inspire collective action to make social media safer. Set to the song, “You Are So Beautiful” performed by singer/songwriter Self Esteem, the film offers a glimpse into the lives of young people, like Mary, coming of age with social media today. From overcoming depression to body dysmorphia, we see first-hand the toll toxic beauty content takes on their wellbeing.

“My default feeling for as long as I can remember has been one of inadequacy. It was burned into my mind even before social media, and it has successfully compounded it. It can keep women in a constant state of comparison which they can never live up to, holding us back and stopping us grow,” notes singer/songwriter Self Esteem. “I am proud to work with Dove to change the conversation. The warped view of my own appearance will never match my authentic inner belief in myself. My goal is to begin to close the gap, for myself and others.”

“Over the past decade, as social media has exploded, we have witnessed a youth mental health crisis — rising suicide rates, hospitalizations for self-harm, and depression among children and teens,” explains Sonja Graham, CEO of Global Action Plan. “Real change requires action from those with the power to make social media safer by design. We are proud to partner with Dove to advance this mission and ensure social media is a safer place for children and young people.” 

Together, we can protect our kids’ mental health. Visit to sign the ‘Protect Kids’ Mental Health’ petition from GAP and 5Rights to call for social media to be made safe by design.


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