UEL to investigate UK’s first major mental health social media initiative

tuckerUEL researcher Dr Ian Tucker has secured funding from the EPSRC Communities and Culture Network+ to investigate the impact of a new online peer support site run by the leading mental health charity Mind.

The ’Social Media and Austerity: Online Peer Support in Mental Health Communities’ project  aims to provide a working definition of ‘online peer-support’ by analysing the charity’s recently launched Elefriends site. Mental health communities are feeling the full extent of current austerity measures due to the redistribution of social care services and significant closure of physical community spaces. This participatory action research seeks to address the experiences of a vulnerable community in a culture of austerity and will explore the capacity of service users to enhance their mental health by engaging with peer-support practices through social media.

The project is funded by EPSRC Communities and Culture Network+, and works with the mental health charity Mind to investigate the impact of the charity’s recently launched peer support social media site – Elefriends (www.elefriends.org.uk) Analysing online posts, as well as interviews with users, the project explores exactly what peer-support means for service users using Elefriends. The aim is to develop a working definition of ‘online peer-support’ to be developed from one of the first major mental health social media initiatives in the UK.

Further information is available from the project’s web page http://www.communitiesandculture.org/projects/social-media-austerity/

Dr Ian Tucker has considerable experience with researching community mental health, and digital technologies. He is a core Network+ member, and an expert member of the EU COST Action Living in Surveillance Societies (LiSS). He was PI on a Mental Health Foundation funded project investigating the impact of life transitions on older mental health service users, and has conducted research exploring the relationships between space and place, identity and mental distress. He has managed RAs and has high impact journal publications in the areas of community mental health, space and technologies. He has existing links with voluntary sector mental health charities (Mind), and has managed research that includes mental health service users as partners in the project (Service User Research).


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