Is Facebook a boon or cause for concern for the mental health industry?
According to a New York Times article by Jan Hoffman referencing a study of the Facebook profiles of 200 university students in the United States, approximately 30 percent of the students “posted updates that met the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for a symptom of depression, reporting feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, and difficulty concentrating”. These findings are said to “echo research that suggests depression is increasingly common among college students”.
Hoffman’s point is that Facebook can therefore serve as an “early warning system for timely intervention” by parents and therapists. The article ends with a quote from a mother in Ohio: “Facebook might be a pain in the neck to keep up with… But having that extra form of communication saves lives”.
No mention is made of the obvious exacerbating influence of social networking sites when it comes to phenomena such as insomnia and concentration difficulty. Rather than promote Facebook as a life-saving tool, one could easily argue that such forums and other technological distractions in fact contribute to depressive trends.
source: Aljazeera / Belen Fernandez