Analysis of online conversations about mental health

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Mental Health Social Media Coverage

Before we launched Make a Ripple – our new campaign to start conversations about mental health problems – we asked O’Leary Analytics to produce a report for us on conversations about mental health online. The report looked at a number of issues including where the conversations are taking place, the tone of the conversations and the volume. The findings were really interesting and will help to ensure that our work online is evidence based. We plan on carrying out similar studies on a fairly regular basis, but in the meantime, we thought it might be interesting to publish some of the top line findings.

The report examined conversations in forums, on twitter, blogs, message boards, wikipedia and YouTube. The period of analysis ran from December 20th 2010 to March 20th 2011. The geography of the report was limited to Ireland.

Top line findings

  • There was an average of 81 online conversations per day about mental health during the period of analysis
  • That represents a total number of 7,391 conversations over three months
  • The vast majority of these conversations happened on message boards and forums (see below) with a high number also occurring on twitter
  • Of the conversations on forums/message boards, the vast majority (3774) occurred on


Key themes


Tone of Online discussions

On the basis of the report, we conducted an in-depth analysis of a sample 100 conversations to determine the tone.

  • 38 posts were neutral in tone- general conversations with reference to mental health, discussion of initiatives
  • 20 posts were negative in tone-disclosures of suicidal behaviour, discussion of suicide attempts, jokes/derogatory comments, disclosures of mental heath problems, response to disclosure of mental health problems.
  • 42 posts were positive in tone- disclosures of mental health problems, responses to disclosures, discussion of mental health problems, information on new initiatives.
  • Even where responses to disclosures were positive, only 41% response actually signposted towards relevant support services.

See Change – May 2011

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