Social Work and Social Media: Online Help-Seeking and the Mental Well-Being of Adolescent Males

Paul Best, Roger Manktelow, Brian J Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)
606 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Current global concerns regarding the mental well-being (MWB) of young males have called for fresh approaches to social work service delivery. This study investigates the efficacy of adopting more ‘online’ approaches within social work practice by examining the current impact of online help-seeking behaviours on the MWB of adolescent males. A survey questionnaire comprised of validated scales measuring mental well-being and self-efficacy, combined with questions examining online help-seeking attitudes and behaviours was completed by 527 respondents aged 14–16 years within a school environment. The internet was used by 42 per cent of respondents to retrieve health information. In general, respondents appeared knowledgeable regarding the importance of trusted and quality online health information, yet were more likely to use search engines (57 per cent) or social networking sites (48 per cent) to find information rather than a government-sponsored website (23 per cent). Young males who reported speaking to online friends regarding personal problems recorded statistically significantly higher levels of mental well-being (p < 0.02). This may suggest that being able to communicate online how you are feeling is a positive for male mental health. Social work practitioners need to recognise this generational shift in help-seeking, in terms of providing and commissioning interpersonal helping via social media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-276
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date11 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Help-seeking, social media, young people, well-being, internet

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