As scientists, we have a responsibility to disseminate our research in an honest and transparent manner. Despite our best efforts, findings can often be elaborated or misinterpreted in the media. As a youth development and mental health researcher, I work with young people to ensure that my research meets young people’s needs, as well as working together to communicate research findings openly and coherently.
When it comes to research about mental health, we need to know the details of the study to decide for ourselves what action to take. You might see a headline such as “Smartphones and social media are destroying children’s mental health” (Financial Times, March 2023); but is this what the data suggests? Do we have evidence to support this claim? Or is it more nuanced than that?
These are exactly the kind of questions I ask in the The Science or Fiction Podcast: the podcast that interviews researchers to separate the science from the fiction in news headlines. The focus is on mental health, and it is co-produced with young people to ensure the content is informative and accessible. To catch up on our Series 1 episode about social media and mental health, listen here. In each episode, we focus on a study that has been covered in the media and get to the bottom of what exactly the evidence shows. The aim of the podcast is to provide the listener with the necessary information about the study and the skills to critically evaluate mental health research in the news.
Our new series launches in October, with episodes released on the first Monday of every month. We’ll be covering topics such as climate anxiety, exercise, loneliness and more! You will be able to find the links to listen to episodes on the website, and follow for updates on Twitter: @sciorfictionpod and Instagram: @scienceorfictionpod.