Could social media sites like Youtube represent an underutilized resource for people seeking mental health and peer support? The answer is “yes”, according to Dartmouth college researchers.
People with severe mental illness (such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder) often use a popular social media website like YouTube to provide and receive naturally occurring peer support, Dartmouth researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE.
“What we found most surprising about our findings was that people with severe mental illness were so open about their illness experiences on a public social media website like YouTube,” said lead author John Naslund, A PhD student in health policy at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. “We saw that people with severe mental illness did not appear to be concerned about the risks of openly sharing their personal illness experiences because they really wanted to help others with similar mental health problems.”
Naslund concluded that people with severe mental illness used YouTube to “feel less alone and to find hope, to support and to defend each other, and to share personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges.”
They also sought to learn from the experiences of others about using medications and seeking mental health care.
“It helps them to overcome fears associated with living with mental illness, and it also creates a sense of community among these individuals,” the researchers said.
Severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder are among the leading causes of disability worldwide. These serious mental illnesses are also associated with a great deal of stigma and discrimination among those with a diagnosed serious mental illness.
The researchers used a method called “online ethnography” to analyze n=3,044 comments posted to 19 videos uploaded by individuals who self-identified as having schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. They then used qualitative methods to analyze the comments and find common themes in the data.
“What is also important is that our findings are consistent with how peer support is viewed in mental health research and practice, which suggests that YouTube or other social media websites might help to extend the reach of informal peer support activities between people with severe mental illness,” Naslund said.
Source: YouTube as peer support for severe mental illness http://medicalxpress.com/…/2014-10-youtube-peer-severe-ment…
We did a review of 120 videos on Youtube dealing with mental illness. Over half dealt with strategies to deal with mental illness.
For example Wellness, Recovery Action plans (WRAP) are one way persons with mental health challenges find hope in dealing with their illness. One video describes WRAP plans which has been reviewed by over 9,000 individuals.
See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdZ4bmwY9G4
People also get hope in recovery by watching videos online. By doing so they realize they are not alone in their struggles.
See related videos: Peer Support in Mental Health http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQR01GLzE9A
See video: Battling stigma in mental illness http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTIZ_aizzyk
We also did a search on YouTube recently using the search parameters “mental illness, finding hope” – it returned a selection of over 5,000 videos. Searching the terms “mental illness, coping” we found over 47,000 videos. This gives you an idea of how useful Youtube is for people who may not have anywhere else to turn for help with mental health challenges.