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YouTube can be a source for peer support for mentally-ill

People with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are turning to YouTube to seek peer support, a new study has found. 

"What we found most surprising about our findings was that people with severe mental illness were so open about their illness experiences on a public social media website like YouTube," said lead author John Naslund, a PhD student in health policy at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. Naslund and colleagues found that people with severe mental illness used YouTube to feel less alone and to find hope, to support and to defend each other, and to share personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges. 

They also sought to learn from the experiences of others about using medications and seeking mental health care. "Therefore, it was not possible for us to determine whether YouTube can provide the benefits of peer support to a wider community of individuals with severe mental illness," Naslund said. 

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.