AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA AMONG THE YOUTHS (A CASE STUDY OF BABCOCK UNIVERSITY)
1.1 Background to the Study
The fast evolution of technology is leading to an increase use of internet and social media among people, from childhood to adults (Bozzola et al., 2018). Online social networking and social media caused profound changes in the way people communicate and interact, however it is unclear, whether some of these changes may affect certain normal aspects of human behavior and cause psychiatric disorders (Pantic, 2019). Studies on adults have linked decreased self-esteem with social media use, and potentially more significant health effects with children (Richards et al., 2015). There are many definition and concepts of social media. Most basic definition states that SM can be defined as ‘’a group of Internet based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content’’ (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; Primack and Escobar-Viera, 2017). Social media is being used increasingly by children and young people. Although social media can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of children and young people, but it can pose risks for these vulnerable population groups (Richards et al., 2015). It allows to staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures and exchanging ideas etc. But at the same time can also become a risk to adolescents (O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011). There are documented risks and benefits of the use of digital technology and social media, range from affecting school performance, increasing loneliness and social anxiety, to enhancing communication and broadening social connections (Clifton et al., 2013), but can also cause profound psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances (Primack and Escobar-Viera, 2017), severe isolation, and suicide (Hinduja and Patchin, 2010). The 2018 survey in the United States of America (USA) shows that a majority of Americans use Facebook and YouTube, but young adults and adolescents mostly use Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and twitter as the primary social media. The report states that around 88% of the young population uses social media of any form (Pew Research Center, 2018). The Statista (2016) reports that in USA 65% of teenagers, aged between 17-20 years, and 75% aged between 15-20 years are using Snapchat. In 2017 there were in total more than 45,6 milions Snapchat and 18 million Instagram users in USA aged under 30. (Primack and Escobar-Viera, 2017)
The stigma associated with mental illness is probably as old as human civilization itself. However, it is in recent times that stigma has attained importance owing to the way it interferes with the care of the individuals suffering from mental illness and their human rights. It is accepted that stigma is one of the key but often hidden barriers to care-seeking among people suffering from mental illnesses. The World Health Report mentioned that about 450 million people suffer from mental illnesses worldwide, but only a small fraction received treatment. Between the suffering and possible care was the barrier of stigma, prejudice and discrimination (WHO, 2011). The issue is universal and an enduring one, as can be seen in the observations from United States of America. In 2019, the Surgeon General noted ‘stigma prevented more than half of the Americans who need urgent mental health care from receiving appropriate treatment’ (Pantic, 2019). In a recent book, Carter (2010) noted ‘the one thing that holds progress back more than anything else is the stigma’. Stigma interferes with people’s access to proper mental and general health care, medication compliance, procurement of a job, receiving marriage proposals, renting a house and acceptance in society as an individual. Besides these, individuals suffering from severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia are often subjected to some of the worst human rights violations as a consequence of their illness. is felt by the individual, his family and relatives, hospitals that provide care for the mentally ill and mental health care providers themselves.
In recent years, research and advocacy have led to a variety of strategies to mitigate stigma and its consequences among both, the general population and a targeted population among the community. A number of systematic public education campaigns have been launched by various organizations across the world in the past few years to improve public perceptions and combat stigmatization. Thus, fighting stigma has been the focus of various organizations.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Second Life, and the like as well as the places where they function are more complex in terms of the code, icon, symbol, construction and function. Social media can be said to be the contemporary models of economic and social systems. They can be described as comprising all web-based and mobile networks which offer a free access with interactive connection. The unrestricted access (the free connectivity) allows a single user to browse, comment on and modernize the content for other users in different parts of the network and communicate with other users about this medium or the presented content. The Internet is regarded rather as a new social environment, social network, space of global communication, educational and scientific space, or a space for leisure activities, such as playing computer games with other users. In the popular communication functions of the Internet such as e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, chat, and bulletin boards, adolescents are basically co- constructing their own environments.
Statement Of The Problem
Social media could consist a major problem in the management of mental health crisis among youths in Nigeria, this because negative attitude from fellow social media users could worsen the situation of youths suffering from mental health disorder or eve trigger mental health disorders in youths. Young Users of social media may experience bullying, shaming, negative responses to their posts. These users may also experience discomfort due to comparison of their self-image and life satisfaction to other users (Belluomini, 2015). Additionally, negative social media behaviors can cause isolation, depression, and mood changes based on negative content users see while scrolling (Belluomini, 2015). Recent studies have shown that individuals with mental disorders are increasingly gaining access to social media platforms (Firth et al. 2015). Similarly, there is mounting evidence showing high rates of social media use among individuals with mental disorders, including studies looking at engagement with these popular platforms across diverse settings and disorder types. All these has contributed to the problem of mental health stigma among the Nigeria youths. Additionally, one can also point out that there has been minimal research done regarding the knowledge and preparedness of mental health clinicians to address the impact of role social media on the mental health stigma among the Nigerian youths.
Objectives Of The Study
The major purpose of this study is to assess the role of social media on mental health stigma among youths in Nigeria. Other objectives of the study are;
To find out how people react to persons dealing with mental health and the acceptance rate in the society and why they react the way they do. To determine the level of awareness of mental health patients among Babcock University Youths. To assess the factors contributing to the mental health stigma among Babcock University Youths. To determine the role of media as a factor contributing to the mental health stigma among Babcock University Youths. To examine the impact of social media on mental health stigma among the Babcock University students. To recommend ways of tackling mental health stigma among the youths in Nigeria.
Statement Of The Research Questions
How do people react to persons dealing with mental health and what is their acceptance level? What is the level of awareness of mental health patients among Babcock University Youths? What are the factors contributing to the mental health stigma among Babcock University Youths? What is the role of the media as a factor contributing to the mental health stigma among Babcock University Youths? What is the impact of social media on mental health stigma among the Babcock University students? What are the ways of tackling mental health stigma among the youths in Nigeria? Statement Of Research Hypotheses
H1: There is no significant impact of social media on mental health stigma among youths in Nigeria
H1: There is a significant impact of social media on mental health stigma among youths in Nigeria
H1: There is no significant relationship between social media usage and increase of mental health patients in Nigeria
H1: There is a significant relationship between social media usage and increase of mental health patients in Nigeria
Significance Of The Study
The study will be of importance to health experts as it will proffer solutions to ending mental health stigma among the Nigerian youths. This study will also be of immense importance to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on students mental health, mental health stigma and the influence of social media towards mental health stigma in Nigeria..
Scope Of The Study
This study will be restricted to the assessment of the role of social media on the mental health stigma among youth in Babcock University Ilishan Remo, Osun state Nigeria.
Operational Definition of Terms
Social Media: Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. By design, social media is internet-based and gives users quick electronic communication of content.
Stigma: Stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of a society. Stigmas are commonly related to culture, gender, race, age, intelligence, and health.
Mental Health: Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Youth: Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood. It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”.