Post 6: #mentalhealth on Twitter and Facebook

The stigma around mental health is an ongoing issue in our society, with many individuals still feeling conflicted by the ‘seriousness’ of this invisible issue. Social media platforms have become versatile in its connecting function; sharing stories and news globally and connecting people with one another. Twitter and Facebook can be acknowledged as social media platforms that allows people from all around the world to connect and share their thoughts and opinions. Thus, for the web scraping data task, I took the task to Twitter and Facebook to explore the data I could find with the hashtag #mentalhealth.

For the Twitter search, initially I made an advanced search for keywords such as #Mentalhealth and #farmers as my research focused on how mental health is associated with farmers in Australia. Using the Twitter Advanced search, I was excited to see what kind of data I was able to collect from different people, in hopes of finding different insights and opinions on this overshadowed issue. However, as a result, there was not much information that could be found with the two hashtags combined as most tweets linked to other existing articles instead of offering personal insights on the issue.

Thus, I refined the search and focused on looking at the key words #mentalhealth and #stigma. As a result, I was able to find an array of perspectives from different individuals, which ultimately assisted in providing a better insight on how these hashtags are used. Here were some of the results.

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From this, I was able to recognise the consistency of these tweets in reflecting an encouraging tone in spreading awareness whilst addressing the topic of mental illness as a real issue.

Moreover, I did some further investigation and applied the web scraping data task on Facebook with the hashtag #mentalhealth. Facebook has grown and expanded in finding new and innovative ways for people to express themselves and their opinions, with functions allowing people to like, dislike and even display emoticons of reactions called ’emojis’. Unlike Twitter that only gives a word limit to how much one can write, Facebook allows users to go in depth with what they want to write. Finding an article by ABC News that shared Kate Middleton’s insight of the stigma around mental health, I was able to find a wide variety of different opinions from fellow readers. From positive encouragement to negative blacklash on the monarchy, it was refreshing to see the discussions formed with random strangers on the platform, with people having the ability to ‘like’ the responses they came across. Here were some of the results.

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Thus, as a result, various stakeholders can be identified through this data collection from both Twitter and Facebook. These stakeholders include individuals suffering and/or affected by mental health problems, as well as doctors and health professionals. The opinionated data collected from these individual profiles has enabled me to gain a greater understanding into the issues of mental health and how these stakeholders play a role within the issue.

Summarising findings

  1. Without word limit on social media platforms, people are able to freely express opinions more.
  2. Sometimes short statements are the most powerful statements.
  3. Hashtags are helpful and useful in allowing likeminded individuals to connect with one another.
  4. Many people on social media are aware of the stigma around mental health and often display tones of encouragement.
  5. Social media platforms opens up opportunities for people to discuss on important issues from all across the world.