Facebook has been a platform for personal reveals and reinvention since its inception. But could someone’s social media image also indicate signs of mental illness?
A new study conducted by University of Missouri doctoral students says that social media could become a valuable tool for psychologists in diagnosing mental illness. By exploring social media profiles, in which individuals tend to communicate more freely, doctors may gain a better understanding of a patient’s behaviors, as well as answers that individuals may not have been able to accurately provide about themselves.
Study participants printed their Facebook profiles and communication for the team of students, which used them to identify signs of schizotypy, described as “a range of symptoms including social withdrawal and odd beliefs.” Some participants also exhibited diminished enjoyment from social interaction, and those who tended towards schizotypy generally had fewer Facebook friends and tagged photos.
“The beauty of social media activity as a tool in psychological diagnosis is that it removes some of the problems associated with patients’ self-reporting,” said Elizabeth Martin, who led the study, in a press statement.