New Study Finds Instagram Can Be Good For People With Depression
It's increasingly becoming a positive tool of support for those with mental health issues.
When it comes to your mental health, it can be hard to ask for help. But according to a new study, more and more people are not only turning to Instagram to find support and express themselves, but are finding it a useful tool in the journey to overcome issues like depression.
While social media has often been linked to negative experiences in that it can be seen to encourage destructive behaviours linking particularly to mental health problems like eating disorders and low self-esteem, this new study seems to prove that this is not always the case and that there is a new wave of users using platforms to support each other. It also supports the theory that Instagram is about way more than selfies, belfies and food porn too.
Over the space of a month, researchers from Drexel University studied responses to nearly 800 insts posts tagged #depression out of a group of 90,000 posts from 24,920 different people. What they found is certainly interesting too and they conclude that the platform is increasingly being used for helpful conversations relating to health, and particularly for those seeking support surrounding mental health.
"Many of the data we analysed was specifically about body image and appearance," study co-author Andrea Forte told Yahoo Beauty. "If we look at the top 100 tags that occurred together with #depression in our data set, we find terms like #fat #anorexia #beautiful #skinny #bulimic #ugly #thin #starving.
"When we analysed the posts, we found that images about food and appearance attracted more responses than many other kinds of posts — both negative and positive comments."
But while there were responses of all kind, they also concluded that positive responses far outweighed the negative ones with terms like "you are strong and beautiful" being among the most common.
The thinking behind their findings is that more and more people are turning to places like Instagram as for those who struggle to express their thoughts and feelings out loud, it offers a safe space and support network with a community feel.
This is further being supported by the measures Instagram itself has taken to protect users. Only last year they introduced a tool to allow users to notify support staff of potential emergency situations. Now, if a post is concerning and you think someone is in trouble, there is an option to flag up the post, allowing staff to directly message the user or their friends to offer support.
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