Social media use, community participation and psychological well-being among individuals with serious mental illnesses


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Little research exists on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) use among individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI). One particular question of interest is the extent to which online social media use is associated with these individuals’ community participation, civic engagement and psychosocial outcomes. Two-hundred and thirty-two individuals with SMI receiving services at 18 mental health organizations throughout the continental U.S. completed questionnaires on their community participation, civic engagement, quality of life, loneliness, and psychiatric symptoms. They were also asked which social media sites they used; the duration, frequency and importance of, and reasons for, social media use; and the number of contacts they had on social media. Approximately a third of the sample reported having at least one social media account. Greater frequency, intensity and longevity of social media were associated with higher levels of community participation, and greater intensity of social media use was positively associated with civic engagement. For instance, those who used social media at least 30 min a day had 16.4 more days of participation and voting rates that were higher by 17.4%. Social media use was not found to be significantly associated with loneliness, psychiatric symptoms or quality of life. Greater social media use appears to be associated with greater community engagement without negative repercussions on loneliness, symptoms, or quality of life. Interventions that support social media use among individuals with SMI could have important community integration benefits.

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