Discourse Analysis of Mutual Support Manifestation on the Mental Health Website Sane.org
Online support forums provide an alternative means of support for individuals suffering from mental health issues. Data from the mental health forum Sane.org was examined using discourse analysis. Extracts are presented and discussed to appraise the varied level of support given and received by posters. Successful posters, who receive support, were found to use techniques such as; narrative building, rationality, presentation of a vulnerable identity. Unsuccessful posters, who received little to no responses, failed to present themselves as authentically in need of help with mental health issues. It appears that forum users gain fulfilment from supporting one another, hence posts which require no obvious support are often neglected. A tendency to view medication and medical professionals negatively was observed. The research highlights important issues of identity, social support, and common opinions of the medical model. The findings could assist in the effective evaluation and implementation of mental health services.