Study: Depressed "Pinterest" users suffer from lack of positive messages

Posted on December 11, 2015

Photo source: Flickr

Despite the large number of posts on visual social media platforms that suggest - and fuel - depressing or suicidal thoughts, there aren't many for users to read and share that would help them cope with their mental state more proactively, a University of Georgia study finds.

The research focused on Pinterest posts - a popular social media site with more than 100 million monthly active users where participants are able to "pin," "like" or "repin" photos and text that relate to them.

The study found that many on Pinterest are using the site to display their depressed thoughts and feelings. "We found that when depression is being communicated or portrayed on Pinterest via images or text, there is a lack of more proactive coping approaches also being portrayed on Pinterest," says co-author Yan Jin.

Jin and her research team analyzed 783 Pinterest posts, categorizing them on their level of depression. They found that "more than half of the pins referred to the seriousness and severity of depression". When analyzing these posts, Jin said there was a lack of specific coping strategies to balance out pins that suggest depressing thoughts. The study also found few health professionals and health public relations practitioners addressing the issue of depression on Pinterest.

"Conversations on social media platforms, especially ones like Pinterest, can provide insight in how both depression sufferers and others engage in conversation about this disorder outside of a formal health care setting," said study co-author Jeanine Guidry.

The study also found that pictures could be a more effective way to reach depressed users. "This is a great opportunity for health professionals and health public relations professionals to engage in and put in more effective messages out there on this platform," Jin said, "involving such things as health tips on how to deal with depression or providing the right coping mechanism to facilitate more positive discussions in this community."

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Source material from UGA Today

Mental Health News