Research project The aim of this project is to analyse young people’s self-organised online strategies for dealing with mental distress. We want to harness the strengths of such strategies, in order for them to be channeled back into the design and future development of platforms and services offered by professionals.
To cover a variety of strategies, we will collect four datasets from blogs, forums, YouTube, and Twitter. First, we analyse the network structure of communication. Second, we do discourse analyses of the communication content. Finally, we draw on the results of these analyses to develop suggestions for how future online interventions for young people with mental ill health should be designed to benefit from the power of peer-support. We do this by devising and evaluating empirically grounded design guidelines and prototypes for social media applications.
Despite the prevalence of user-created online coping activities among young people with mental illnesses, very little is known about the various structures, formats and precise benefits of this type of peer support. In general, research on patient- to-patient interaction over the Internet has been very limited. We believe that future interventions must be developed around the already existing modes of networked communication on the Internet, and be sensitive to how they work.