Mental health memes: beneficial or aversive in relation to psychiatric symptoms?

AKRAM, Umair and DRABBLE, Jennifer (2022). Mental health memes: beneficial or aversive in relation to psychiatric symptoms? Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9 (1): 370.

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Composed of an image and short caption, internet memes visually depict an element of a culture or behavioural system, in a humorous way that contextually relates to a particular demographic. Typically, they are rapidly shared, with many variations of the original. Online interaction with internet memes has become a crucial psychosocial aspect of digital culture, which have recently become well established in popular media by consistently maintaining culturally topical and socially salient references. Increasingly, many pages are dedicated to sharing memes related to the symptom experience of specific psychiatric disorders. Despite their popularity, the individual motivation for the observation and sharing of mental health memes remains poorly understood. While several psychiatrists and media outlets perceive internet memes related to mental health difficulties to be associated with adverse consequences, the empirical evidence fails to support this notion. Among individuals experiencing psychiatric difficulties, we explore whether interacting with mental health memes involves adverse consequences, or rather serve as a beneficial coping mechanism. Here, evaluation of the literature indicates that most psychiatrically vulnerable individuals report positive experiences when engaging with such memes. More specifically, they are perceived to facilitate a humorous take on a negative experience and situation, and the perception of peer-support through social bonds with others experiencing similar symptoms. While mental health memes typically depict dark and negative humour, their proximal nature to those experiencing psychiatric symptoms may be considered contextually positive. As such, to conclude, we discuss the role of contextual humour in facilitating cognitive reappraisal of negative thoughts and experiences. Furthermore, we set an agenda to address key methodological limitations of existing work while providing suggestions for future research.

Item Type: Article
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2022 10:16
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 09:45

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