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Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2012 Winter;35(3):245-50. doi: 10.2975/35.3.2012.245.250.

Young adults with mental health conditions and social networking websites: seeking tools to build community.

Author information

  • 1Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA. gowen@pdx.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined ways that young adults with mental illnesses (1) currently use social networking; and (2) how they would like to use a social networking site tailored for them. The authors examined differences between those with mental health conditions and those without.

METHODS:

An online survey was administered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to 274 participants; of those, 207 reported being between 18 and 24 years old. The survey included questions about current social networking use, the key resources respondents believed young adults living with mental illness need, and the essential components that should be included in a social networking site specifically tailored to young adults living with mental illness. Pearson Chi-square analyses examined the differences between those who reported having a mental illness and those who did not.

RESULTS:

Results indicate that almost all (94%) participants with mental illnesses currently use social networking sites. Individuals living with a mental illness are more likely than those not living with a mental illness to report engaging in various social networking activities that promote connectivity and making online friends. Individuals living with mental illnesses are also more likely to report wanting resources on independent living skills and overcoming social isolation available on a social networking site.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

Young adults living with mental illnesses are currently using social networking sites and express high interest in a social networking site specifically tailored to their population with specific tools designed to decrease social isolation and help them live more independently. These results indicate that practitioners should themselves be aware of the different social networking sites frequented by their young adult clients, ask clients about their use of social networking, and encourage safe and responsible online behaviors.

PMID:
22246123
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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