Social media, mental health and recovery

DClinPsych Thesis

Fullarton, K. 2020. Social media, mental health and recovery. DClinPsych Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsFullarton, K.
TypeDClinPsych Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Clinical Psychology

Opportunities provided by Social Networking Sites (SNS) to voice opinions, challenge discourses, access information, and form networks of support have led SNS to be framed as empowering for people with mental health (MH) problems. However, existing research on the relationships between SNS and empowerment is limited and contradictory. This study aimed to build a theoretical model of this complex area. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten people with mental health difficulties regarding their use of SNS. Transcripts were analysed using a constructivist Grounded Theory methodology. A cyclical model was developed, representing how participants weigh up issues of safety and opportunity to gain a positive sense of MH identity, evaluate feedback and renegotiate use of SNS. The extent to which participants feel able to make stigmatised aspects of themselves ‘visible’ is key, activating empowering processes such as catharsis, feeling part of a supportive community and gaining a sense of value and purpose. If risks are perceived as outweighing rewards, participants engage in disempowering processes of censorship, or silencing and hiding stigmatised aspects, which perpetuates feelings of shame and isolation. Findings are discussed in relation to extant theories of SNS use, identity and empowerment and clinical and research implications outlined.

KeywordsSocial Media; Empowerment; Identity; Stigma; Mental health
File Access Level
Supplemental file
File Access Level
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Oct 2020
Permalink -

  • 32
    total views
  • 7
    total downloads
  • 5
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as