Role of social media and the Internet in pathways to care for adolescents and young adults with psychotic disorders and non-psychotic mood disorders
Early Interv Psychiatry
AIMS: Although psychosis often occurs during adolescence, there has been little research on how the ubiquitously used Internet and social media could impact pathways to care. We examined how youth with psychotic spectrum disorders (PSD) versus non-psychotic mood disorders (NPMD) use online resources in the early illness stages. METHODS: Social media use and pathways to care data were collected using a semi-structured interview from 80 youth (PSD = 40 and NPMD = 40) aged 12-21 years within 2 years of symptom onset. RESULTS: A total of 97.5% of participants (mean age = 18.3 years) regularly used social media, spending approximately 2.6 +/- 2.5 h per day online. There were 22.4% of our sample (PSD = 19.4%, NPMD = 25.0%, P = 0.56) who reported waiting to reach out for help believing that symptoms would disappear. A total of 76.5% (PSD = 67.5%, NPMD = 85.0%, P = 0.06) noticed social media habit changes during symptom emergence. Thirty per cent reported discussing their symptoms on social media (PSD = 22.5%, NPMD = 37.5%, P = 0.14). NPMD patients sought information most on how to stop symptoms (40.0% vs. 13.5%, P = 0.01), while PSD youth were more commonly interested in what caused their symptoms (21.6% vs. 15.0%, P = 0.45). More PSD patients (42.9% vs. 25.0%, P = 0.10) would prefer to receive mental health information via the Internet. Altogether, 63.6% (PSD = 64.9%, NPMD = 62.5%, P = 0.83) were amenable to clinicians proactively approaching them via social media during symptom emergence. A total of 74.3% (PSD = 78.4%, NPMD = 70.0%, P = 0.40) liked the idea of obtaining help/advice from professionals via social media. CONCLUSIONS: The Internet and social media provide an unparalleled opportunity to supplement and potentially transform early intervention services, and acceptance of this approach appears to be high.
Faculty, Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health