New York: When college students post about feelings of depression on social media sites, Facebook in particular, their friends are unlikely to encourage them to seek help, a new study suggests. According to the findings, published in the journal JMIR Research Protocols, none of the 33 participating students said their friends told them they should reach out to a mental health professional to discuss their problems.
Instead, most friends simply sent supportive or motivating messages. “But that may not be good enough for people who are truly depressed – as some of the people in this study probably were, it makes me concerned that none of the Facebook friends of students in this study were proactive in helping their friend get help,” said study lead author Scottye Cash, Professor at Ohio State University in the US.
This study included the 33 students in the larger study who reported that they had “reached out on Facebook for help when depressed.”The two most common themes in the participants’ Facebook posts were negative emotions or having a bad day. Together, those themes appeared in about 45 per cent of the posts the students reported on.
Students reported that the most common responses from their friends to their posts about depression (about 35 per cent of responses) were simply supportive gestures. The next most common response (19 per cent of posts) was to ask what was wrong, which participants didn’t always take positively.