A systematic review exploring how young people use online forums for support around mental health issues

Hanley, Terry ORCID: 0000-0001-5861-9170, Prescott, Julie ORCID: 0000-0001-8612-2495 and Gomez, Katalin Ujhelyi ORCID: 0000-0002-1396-9588 (2019) A systematic review exploring how young people use online forums for support around mental health issues. Journal of Mental Health, 28 (5). pp. 566-576. ISSN 0963-8237

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Background: Young people increasingly look towards the Internet for support. Online forums have been developed to provide mental health support, but they have received little attention in the research to date. Aims: To summarise the existing literature examining how individuals use online forums to obtain support for mental health difficulties. Methods: A systematic review of electronic databases was conducted to identify empirical literature in this area. The papers that met the inclusion criteria and satisfied quality assessment review were analysed for key themes. Results: Twenty-one papers were found. Three common themes in the papers were associated with opportunities of the technology: (1) Providing stand alone or complementary informal support, (2) Providing informational, emotional and infomotional support, and (3) Making use of the specific practical opportunities afforded by forum technology. A further three themes were associated with challenges: (1) Managing the expectations of forum users, (2) Ensuring service user safety, and (3) Navigating the technical challenges associated with forums. Conclusions: The paper highlights the potential for individuals to access dynamic and responsive support within online forums. Additionally, it reflects upon the major areas that mental health professionals need to be aware of when entering into this arena.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Online forums, young people, young adults, mental health, systematic review
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology
Depositing User: Tracey Gill
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 13:26
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 02:30
Identification Number: 10.1080/09638237.2019.1630725
Funders: University of Bolton Jenkinson Fund
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/2371

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