WTAP @ 5 To Your Health: Social Media Mental Health

Can the social network help people get through tough times, such as a diagnosis of breast cancer, or dealing with some tough mental problems?


Here's John Lisk with today's Health Minute.

Raymond Federici has suffered from anxiety problems his whole life.

"Bipolar, stress disorders sometimes."

And although he's has his condition under control he says it's always nice to talk to someone who's going through the same issues.

"All we are looking for is to be listened to."

So in this day of social networking Federici turns to people on Facebook, Twitter and other websites to chat about what's bothering him.

But the question psychiatrists were asking, do these online forums really help?

"There are tens of millions of Americans who are using online peer support. So I decided to do a study to take a look at how effective online peer support is."

Temple University researchers looked at mental health patients and the effects social networking had on their mental state. The findings were surprising.

"Overall we didn't find any effects, we didn't find necessarily positive effects or a harmful effects."

But researchers found that those who participated in the online chats on a daily basis benefitted from their deep involvement.

"Those individuals reported that meetings were more relevant and more satisfying..but they also reported greater levels of stress."

Doctors believe the extra stress is caused by trying to help others in the group. Something Federici says is good for everybody.

For Today's Health Minute, I'm John Lisk.

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