Power and flexibility of social media sites should not be undermined. Among many usage of these sites, the lesser known is that they serve as an emerging source of data for public health studies, including mental health (Schrading et al.).
According to a study on domestic abuse disclosure on a social media site, Schrading et al. reported that this site offers “less intimidating and more accessible channels for reporting, collectively processing, and making sense of traumatic and stigmatizing experiences”. One such site is Reddit.
Reddit is a popular social news and entertainment media launched in 2005. As of 2015, Reddit has amassed 36 million user accounts and 234 million monthly unique visitors. This site has a vast range of forums dedicated to various topics, known as “subreddits”. Its forum-style social system allows users to share texts and media as posts that allow votes and comments. Unlike Twitter, Reddit allows lengthy submissions.
Given the unique characteristics of the site, Reddit acts as a support system for mental health suffers, which provides a platform for self-disclosure, social support, and anonymity. Users may interact anonymously and become connected with others who share similar difficulties, misery, pain, condition, or distress (Choudhury & De).
Moreover, each subreddit is moderated by online community volunteers. For sensitive subreddit topics that are related to mental health and illnesses, their main role is to ensure that “the anonymous submitter has access to local help hotlines if a life-threatening situation is described” (Schrading et al.).
In essence, Reddit is a comfortable and safe space for people who cannot disclose their mental health experiences due to social stigma. Even for ones who are simply willing to share a piece of their own life story to help others.
Infographic below summarizes key findings and statistics in relation to this topic: