Understanding how social media shapes perceptions of mental illness is important because those with a mental illness face an uphill battle for social acceptance. Individuals without a mental illness often choose to keep a distance from this stigmatized group. Many Americans are hesitant to personally interact, or have their children interact with, children with mental illnesses. The label of mental illness is so strongly associated with mediated examples of violence and danger that people often reject the idea of social contact with such individuals in order to protect themselves and those they care about (Myrick, Pavelko). But once many of these people log on to social media websites, and start posting statuses about how someone they know is acting “so bipolar,” they go from having negative views of mental illnesses to having ignorant views of them.
Of course social media does not consist of all things that are harmful and malicious. Social media can actually be a tool capable of informing the public of important issues and bringing people together to make a change. More people than ever before...
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...bles (Cianfrone et al).
The researchers were also able to determine that youth are increasingly seeking health information online through websites and social media channels. The use of social media in mental health promotion strategies is a relatively new phenomenon, but there is some evidence to support its value for engaging youth in learning about symptoms and help-seeking behaviors related to mental health problems. A recent review of digital communication efforts to promote youth mental health (e.g., social networking sites, online screening tools, YouTube ‘‘It Gets Better’’ campaign, etc.), suggests that social media is an effective mechanism for increasing knowledge of mental health symptoms and awareness of services, as well as for reducing stigma through the establishment of social community networks and the creation of user-driven content (Cianfrone et al).
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