Mental health issues are considered to be socially stigmatized in the society. Consequently, too many individuals, finding a trusted individual whom they can confide to regarding their mental illness is a grave challenge. It has been established that online communities provide a powerful platform for candid disclosures and support seeking around stigmatized concerns and experiences. Online health support groups in Reddit, in particular, due to their semi-anonymity feature, have established an extensive support platform for people with social inhibitions seeking help. These communities can provide support in various forms, ranging from informational to emotional support. Informational support may be helpful for short-term challenges in contrast to the emotional support. However, information support can also present itself with credibility and trust issues. On the other hand, emotional support is deemed more helpful to people suffering from mental illness. How do these different types of support impact an individual's perceived sense of mental well-being in an online community? How do support types relate to an online community's helpfulness, efficacy, and survival over time? Through this project, we will show some preliminary quantitative findings that addressed these questions.
The SocWeB Lab's mission is to develop novel computational techniques, and technologies powered by these techniques, to responsibly and ethically employ social media in quantifying, understanding, and improving our mental health and well-being.