Abstract Title

Survey Study of Perceived Online Social Support, Loneliness, Mental Illness and Marginalization

Additional Funding Sources

This research was supported by Boise State University.

Abstract

Various studies have shown the potential benefits of using social media as a platform for peer-to-peer support, an organic type of social support that can take the shape of Facebook groups or online chats, and involves shared knowledge, such as firsthand experience with mental illness or marginalization (Berry et al., 2017; Lucero, 2017; Naslund et al., 2016; Oh et al., 2014). Naslund et al. (2016) point out how individuals facing mental illness could potentially overcome fear, isolation, and other challenges with support from peers online via social media.

Perceived social support, found to be positively correlated with life satisfaction, is the amount of support that a person feels they have access to and does not rely on the amount of people or quality of relationships in one’s social circle (Oh et al., 2014). The aim of this study was to investigate the connections between marginalized status, mental illness, perceived social support, loneliness and online peer to peer social support in college students. We found that those who reported higher perceived online social support engage more with online peer to peer support groups than those who reported lower perceived online social support. There was a significant difference between those who self-reported having a mental health condition and those who reported that they do not have a mental health condition on loneliness. These findings contribute to the literature on how individuals seek and receive support online from peers.

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Survey Study of Perceived Online Social Support, Loneliness, Mental Illness and Marginalization

Various studies have shown the potential benefits of using social media as a platform for peer-to-peer support, an organic type of social support that can take the shape of Facebook groups or online chats, and involves shared knowledge, such as firsthand experience with mental illness or marginalization (Berry et al., 2017; Lucero, 2017; Naslund et al., 2016; Oh et al., 2014). Naslund et al. (2016) point out how individuals facing mental illness could potentially overcome fear, isolation, and other challenges with support from peers online via social media.

Perceived social support, found to be positively correlated with life satisfaction, is the amount of support that a person feels they have access to and does not rely on the amount of people or quality of relationships in one’s social circle (Oh et al., 2014). The aim of this study was to investigate the connections between marginalized status, mental illness, perceived social support, loneliness and online peer to peer social support in college students. We found that those who reported higher perceived online social support engage more with online peer to peer support groups than those who reported lower perceived online social support. There was a significant difference between those who self-reported having a mental health condition and those who reported that they do not have a mental health condition on loneliness. These findings contribute to the literature on how individuals seek and receive support online from peers.