Social Chain co-founder Dominic McGregor has said social media is one of the biggest drivers behind mental health problems.

McGregor set up the Manchester-headquartered marketing agency with CEO and  Steve Bartlett in November 2014 and it has grown rapidly.

Its worldwide reach across the pages it runs across various social media platforms is now more than 386 million, meaning it can often cause hashtags to go viral in a matter of minutes.

It works with clients including Superdry, SkyBet, BooHoo, New Balance and Warner Music and employs more than 150 staff around the world.

However McGregor says social media is not purely a force for good.

"Social media is one of the biggest drivers [behind mental health problems],” he told BusinessCloud.

“People constantly question themselves and their lifestyles against others on social media. This instability and lack of belief seeps into your day-to-day and can drive negative feelings.

“On top of social media, there's a wider media influence from the likes of TV and newspapers.

“TV programmes can have a huge effect on people's mental health and, if you read the news, you'd think the world was ending soon.

“All of these stimuli together have a negative impact.”

→ McGregor will be speaking at our Entrepreneurs and mental health breakfast on 10th April. Book now

McGregor recently told BusinessCloud that he gave up alcohol to improve both his leadership and life in general.

He continued: “The first stage of mental health is understanding what is happening. A lot of people are at this stage, unsure of what is going on with them and their emotions.

“The last few years, a lot of work has been done to raise the awareness of mental illnesses – but still people do not know if they are going through it. 

“Those that do speak up understand themselves and the problems. I'd imagine this is only a handful of those who have struggled with their mental health and there are a lot more stories to come.”

Social Chain hit the headlines when it employed a director of happiness – and McGregor says employee happiness is key to business growth “over any other metric”.

“I wish there was a way to record the happiness of people in workplaces as this would be the best indicator for helping people with mental illness and a big step in supporting everyone across your business,” he said.

“Our director of happiness’ role is to make sure Social Chain is the best place to spend your time. We don't see it as work – it's a lifestyle. 

“I don't agree with the term ‘work/life balance’ as this indicates they are at conflict with each other. They should be viewed as one thing: life balance.

“No one should have to make sacrifices: small things like allowing people the autonomy to go to the doctor's, driving lessons and to see their family pays dividends in the long term as they build loyalty and respect amongst team members.” 

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