30 April 2018
Vlogging about severe mental illness may benefit and encourage recovery.
That is the finding of research by Irina Sangeorzan and Panoraia Andriopoulou from Manchester Metropolitan University, one of many posters that will be presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Nottingham this week.
Known as vlogging, the act of uploading diary videos to Youtube and other video-sharing platforms has become hugely popular in recent years, with sufferers of severe mental illnesses being among those to document their experiences of everyday life.
The researchers undertook an interpretive phenomenological analysis, having systematically searched Youtube for appropriate videos under four key search terms – “schizophrenia”, “bipolar disorder”, “major depressive disorder”, and “schizoaffective disorder”.
A set of 30 videos by individuals who identified themselves as having a severe mental illness and spoke about their experience of vlogging in this context were chosen and transcribed.
Three themes emerged from this analysis: Minimising Isolation, Vlogging as Therapy, and Fighting Stigma.
All vloggers emphasised the importance of reducing social isolation and building a sense of community through their activities online. One vlogger said in their video:
“I don’t know about you, but when I first got out and I was able to comprehend what was happening to me, I finally got out of hospital and I got home, the first thing I did was go on Youtube and start watching people’s testimony and it really helped me, it gave me hope that I wasn’t alone.”
A number of the vloggers also emphasised that they had started their channels as both a form of self-help and a way of helping others who may be experience similar conditions. One vlogger said:
“I remember being really scared and just feeling alone, and like an absolute freak. So, in a way helping others is like me helping myself those years back.”
Analysis also revealed that vloggers viewed combating stereotyped and misconceptions about their mental illness to be more important than maintaining secrecy of it.
Irina Sangeorzan said:
“Despite the recent rise in organisation and individual led health vlogs, the literature examining this social media platform remains scarce and little is known about the effects that vlogs have on both producers and viewers.
“Our study offers the first empirical evidence of how vlogging can be a beneficial activity for people suffering from a range of serious psychiatric conditions.
“Connecting with an online community who have been through similar experiences themselves can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.”