People suffering from severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder seek peer support on popular social media websites like YouTube, claims a new study.
Lead author John Naslund, said that sharing experiences of personal illness could be helpful to others with similar mental health problems.
Naslund and colleagues have found that people suffering 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 and to be able to deal with the great deal of stigma and discrimination.
The researchers had 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.
The findings had been consistent with how peer support was viewed in mental health research and practice, which suggested that YouTube or other social media websites might help to extend the reach of informal peer support activities between people with severe mental illness.
The report was published in the journal PLOS ONE.