Helping Friends Suffering Mental Health Issues: Challenges and Opportu…

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Name Taewan Kim Date18-01-17 09:05 Hit239 Comment0

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People with mental health problems are increasingly using social media to disclose their experiences or to seek help. Recent research has suggested that peer support plays a critical role in achieving better health outcomes for these individuals. However, little is known about the experiences and perceptions of the peers who are expected to provide this support. In this paper, I investigate how student peers recognize, perceive, and support others who describe mental health-related challenges on social media. Online survey (N=227) and interviews (N=20) revealed that a considerable number of people did not proactively support where they could identify others at risk through stigmatized content, unusual online activities, or a gap between online and offline identity. I found that social stigma, fatigue, and susceptibility often hampered social support. I outline the implications of using social media as a supportive platform, and discuss opportunities for using design to enhance the peers’ social support experiences.

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