blog 6- Mental Health in Twitter Timeline

By Marcella K. Handoko Kwee

Current Twitter logo (flaticon 2015)

The chosen social media platform is Twitter. I could use other social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Blogs etc since I have not logged into Twitter for very long time however, I thought the more unfamiliar I am with ‘what is going on in Twitter’, the more interesting Twitter becomes.


Twitter is a social media that allows the users worldwide to write up their thoughts they care about only up to 140 in characters each time. It is being referred as ‘Tweet’. Twitter is commonly used for either personal or business purposes. Twitter also allows the users to follow other users with the same or different interests, follow ‘stakeholders’: actors/actresses, news agencies, companies etc, to retweet other users’ tweets, to mark other’s tweets as favorites, to reply other tweets and so on. Furthermore, Twitter allows the users to link their other social platforms with their Twitter accounts. Thus other Twitter’s users should be able to check our posts on other social media without any interruptions or having to log into those specific social media.

Through Twitter, hard-liners are able to advertise their idealised image of their beliefs as well as to express their disagreements toward their competitors non-verbally, stakeholders: companies, media agencies, governments etc compete one another by sharing their best contents in order to gain popularity measured through the number of retweets, replies and followers, general populations show their supports towards things that they care about.

The Process of Collecting Data


GSpreadsheet 1

In order to document or collect the findings/results associated with mental health stigma within Twitter platform, the first step taken is using Twitter Archiver Google Spreadsheet to search tweets under hashtag ‘stigma’ following by keywords ‘mental health’ and ‘disorder’. Below is provided 2 flow chart graphics, which are consisted of flow chart graphic of number of Twitter users’ followers and follows, and flow chart graphic of count of tweet text. The next step taken is using Twitter ‘Advanced Search’ to search tweets under the same hashtag and same keywords however, the keywords are combined and became ‘mental health disorder’.

Flow Spreadsheet 1

Flow Chart 1

Flow Spreadsheet 2

Flow Chart 2

Comparing between the two alternative ways of collecting data of mental health stigma, I found out that Google Twitter Archiver gave me so much more structured and complete data however, Twitter Advanced Search gave me insights into what the users were actually talking about in their posts, the aim of the conversations, the tone of the conversations clearly in full design screen. In order to dig much more interesting and relevant information on mental health stigma, the best way to do that is by scrolling throughout Twitter timeline.

Advanced Search 1

Advanced Search 2

Here are some of the summaries of the results found:

  • Stigma does not always relate to mental health. Stigma does exist in a number of different areas, including community services, physical health and disabilities. When “stigma” is typed into the hashtag search column, it will show lots of irrelevant topic to mental health. Most of the topic discussed are associated with lung cancer, HIV, physical disabilities and postcode prejudice in the region.
  • Regardless area of issue, stigma has always been controversial and negative.
  • Supportive statements in association with mental health have been found. Few examples are a tweet by @MHCNSW, “Glad to see Aussie men getting on board with #ItsOkayToTalk, breaking down #stigma around #mentalhealth and #suicide” has been retweeted 4 times, a tweet by @AllanSparkes, “Speak up, stop the deathly silence.Thank U Men’s Health for helping break the stigma. @MensHealthAU #LiveStronger” has been retweeted 18 times and a tweet by @DestroyerMariko, “We’re getting there, but we still need to break the #stigma of #mentalillness. This is awful: #mentalhealth #bipolar”. There are senses of relief, proud, courage and grateful throughout the words. The good thing about Twitter is it can also be used as a medium to increase awareness globally.
  • Current news reports have also been found. Few examples are a tweet by @Pawsitivehills, “Our Gold Sponsor Medibank Private Castle Hill are helping us fight the stigma of mental illness in the hills.” has been retweeted 5 times and a tweet by @KBoydell, “Mural art – making a difference increasing awareness decreasing stigma enhancing community relationships @themhsorg” has been retweeted twice. Twitter platform can be used to share information on current situations as well as to show their supports. However, chance is the subjects of the tweet are getting advertised. Thus Twitter platform is an alternative way to gain popularity.
  • One-on-one conversation tweet has also been found. A tweet by @juntei, “@helisalmiakki yeah. they aren’t seeing past stigma. maybe uncomfortable w family being MI and/or disabled? unconscious associated shame”. However, should there are concerned about privacy of personal opinions or views.
  • Retweet functionality is one good point. It helps the users to share good contents in much easier way however, chance is false news can spread quickly over the timeline.
  • Top tweets often come from users who are considered professional and interested in politics and laws, journalism, health, public speaking, human rights, psychologist and similar areas.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 12.41.26 AM

I managed to take another step. I adjusted slightly different keywords and hashtags: ‘stigma’ in this exact phrase column, ‘mental condition struggles uncertainty’ in any of these words column and ‘mental health’ in these hashtags column to leave out in both Twitter Advanced Search and Google Twitter Archiver in order to generate more interesting and relevant results. The current results shown up are much more relevant to the issue, including mental health stigma quotes without showing any other areas of issue but, fewer in number of results.