Communities and Social Media

How social media such as Twitter and Discord can help individuals with mental illness and build communities online


Social media plays a huge role in people’s daily life. It has a huge potential of bringing individuals together and can create a specific community such as mental health, where people can talk about their problems and be in a community with the similar problems. There are a few reasons why social media can be a benefit for people who are suffering with mental health. One of the reasons are smooth social interactions. People who have difficulty interacting face to face can feel much better interacting with others online. Most social media now days have peer support network. This is where individuals who have mental illness can seek help or advice from other individuals who are having the same illness or from a mental illness counsellor. There are also “tools” in specific social media that can help individuals who are experiencing depression or anxiety such as Discord bot, this allows them to communicate with a bot with a human feel to it.


Many people who are dealing with mental illness, have turned to social media as a way to express themselves. The word “social media” includes a wide variety of web and mobile networks that enables people to interact with one another. People may communicate with others in a virtual network to exchange and share different types of digital content such as information, messages, and videos.

According to Naslund Individuals with a range of mental illnesses, such as dependency, medical problems, depression, anxiety, and some other severe mental illnesses, utilize social media at the same frequency as the general population.

Previously, mental illness issues were experienced in isolation; but, today, a troubled individual can quickly find people experiencing similar issues via media platforms. Healthcare professionals may be more likely to identify and handle mental illness issues as a result of increased sensitivity and help-seeking actions, potentially lowering the diagnosis barrier (Keles, 2020). Despite the issues and dangers of using social media, it can be a valuable tool for spreading awareness about mental health. I’ll go into how social media like Discord and Twitter can support people with mental illnesses in more depth below.

Twitter and Discord

Twitter was established in 2006 as an online social networking and broadcast service. It Allows users to send 280-character messages to the general public or a select group of authorised supporters. These tweets can then be retweeted and shared with another user’s supporters, causing a domino effect that spreads messages across larger social networks. Others will reply almost instantly after seeing the tweets, allowing for near-instantaneous conversation. Users’ tweets may contain a hashtag (#) for particular words and phrases, making them discoverable. (Liu et al, 2021).

According to Delfino and Dean (2021), Discord is a messaging application that was originally designed for video game players but has since expanded to be used for a wide range of groups. Users may also post images, photos, internet connections, songs, and other media. Almost every server has many networks, each of which is delegated to a specific topic or has its own set of laws. There are hundreds or thousands of Discord servers, each devoted to a specific subject. There’s a fair chance you’ll be able to find a Discord server for whatever it is you’re involved in.

Smooth Social Interactions

Naslund et al. (2020) stated that Despite the time of day and the physical place, social media platforms have near-constant ways to communicate and engage with each other. This on-demand contact flexibility could be particularly useful for promoting social interaction among people with mental illnesses who have trouble communicating in face-to-face situations. Individuals with severe mental illnesses, as well as young people with mental illness, tend to develop online interactions and interact with those on social media at the same pace as the general public.

This is a significant finding since people suffering from severe mental illnesses usually have very few social experiences in real life and suffer from high rates of isolation. Nearly half (47 percent) of people accessing federally funded mental health care who use social media said they do so at least a weekly basis to feel less isolated. Intriguingly, greater group involvement, as measured by participation in shopping, work, religious events, or visiting families and friends, and even some greater public engagement, was correlated with greater use of social media among a proportion of individuals with significant mental illness (Torous & Keshavan, 2016).

Peer Support Network

Social media has the potential to offer valuable peer support for struggling individuals through its unique qualities. One such example of social media acting as an effective tool for this is through easy access of built-in search options. Search functions and algorithms help individuals to find others with similar interests and struggles with just some simple typing and a click of the search button. A study from Naslund et al. (2020) and other researchers provides evidence for this benefit, finding that individuals with schizophrenia made use of online forums to discuss their struggles with others, finding advice for medication, and helping others themselves. The virtual nature of social media makes it easier for afflicted individuals through their ease of use compared to having to engage in long searches for in-person support groups, a difficult task for those with mental disorders due to the obstacles they have to confront with face-to-face interaction. 

Communicating with others who have similar issues online will lead to a greater desire to understand what to anticipate, how to deal with any of it, and how critical health choices can be taken. Naslund et al. (2020) stated that individuals who are diagnosed with mental illness tend to be more inspired to pursue professional health services after discussing friends online or researching. As certain measures such as finding health care, finding or discussing the proper medications and finding the proper doctor for specific illness were discussed in popular social media platforms by individuals who are diagnosed, it increases the rate of encouragement for other mental illness individuals to seek help and medication.

 Torous et al. (2014) stated that Individuals who have mental illness tend to be motivated to seek health care as they become more optimistic and motivated due to their time on social media talking and receiving ideas, asking questions on what to know during a medical appointment, from other individuals who are diagnosed with mental illness online. This will then help them learn from people who have experienced it and know what to do.

There are a few online posts that were made by individuals regarding the importance of social media to mental illness. The same study by Naslund et al. (2020) found that individuals who used social media for self-help reflected that social media made them feel less isolated. It can help them to find support from different groups on how to cope with the challenges of living everyday with mental illness. 

There are numerous different forms of support appearing online. According to Naslund et al (2020) information such as regarding medical use for mental illness individuals, self-esteem encouragement for individuals who need positive encouragement for their everyday lives, there is also a supporting network where individuals with experiences can provide solutions for individuals who are seeking help, lastly emotional support, where individuals can communicate with people who will listen to their difficulties and provide them with the hope they need.

According to Williamson et al. (2015), making new friends, going into romantic relationships, reconnecting with old friends and finding help and support from others with experience are the importance of online connections.

With Discord, it is easy for users to find a server that focuses on mainly mental illness. You simply type in “Mental illness Discord” and you will then find a list of servers that you can join that supports your wellbeing. According to Mayhem (2018), most Discord servers that are on about mental illness have a one-on-one chat room with a mental health counsellor where you can discuss your problems for individuals who are seeking crisis support and have nowhere else to go. 

Chat Bot

Chatbots are software programs that interact with a user interface. 2 example of the chatbots are called woebot and Mikebot. They are meant to mimic human behaviour. Chat bots are intended to support people suffering from mental disabilities. Bailey (2019) mentioned that this mental illness helper chatbot was designed to work with Discord, a common messaging and voice communication application. This chatbot does have a number of functions, such as emotion monitoring, emotion reactions, and counsellor requests. In addition, the programme transmits a brief alert notification to the individual every hour.

The chatbot’s main purpose is mood replies.  According to Bailey (2019), Individuals will choose from 15 different feelings, ranging from “happy” and “excited” to “frustrating” and “anxious.” The exclamation point is being used to signify the issuance of an order. Users are taken into a chat with the bot after joining their mood. This function is meant to serve as a first line of defence for people who don’t have someone to show their feelings to. This functionality is not intended to take the place of human contact. In reality, some of the bot’s conversations urge the user to find a friend with whom to converse. If the user is unable to contact someone, the bot will try to talk to the user.

The bot is seen typing just after the sender submits a text. This is done to make the user interface sound rather like a dialogue between two people. Furthermore, the bot pauses for a moment before responding. The longer the answer, the more time the bot spends “typing.” Each emotion elicits a distinctive answer. Each answer, however, has at least two distinct sections. The first move is to accept. The bot validates the user’s feelings. This is intended to help the consumer feel heard and affirm their emotions. The second step is to address a problem. If the user is unhappy or anxious, the bot will give some suggestions to allow them to feel better. If the individual is pleased, the bot suggests ways for the individual to be happier very often. This section is intended to assist the individual in dealing with their emotions (Bailey, 2019).


Social media such as Discord and Twitter are more than just a form of place where people can share messages, images and videos. They can help individuals who are suffering from mental illness by connecting them with other individuals who are experiencing the same issues or individuals who are an expert at handling mental. social media also have chatbots that allows individuals to communicate and give positive encouragement to the users on a daily basis.  Social media plays a huge role today for people who are suffering from mental illness, since it allows them to communicate, join or create communities online if they are feeling uncomfortable of doing it offline.  Without being said, this shows how important social media is for individuals with mental illness.


Agarwal, Pragya. (2018). Chatbots Supporting Mental Well-Being: Are We Playing A Dangerous Game? Forbes.

Bailey, Michael Rei. (2019). Mental Health and Wellness Chatbot [Honour’s dissertation, The University of Arizona]. University Libraries.

Dean, Grace & Delfino, Devon. (2021). What is Discord? A guide to the popular group-chatting app. Business Insider Australia.

Keles, Betul. McCrae, Niall. Grealish, Annmarie. (2019) A systematic reiew: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth. 25(1)

Liu, L., & Woo, B. K. P. (2021). Twitter as a mental health support system for students and professionals in the medical field. JMIR Medical Education. 7(1)

Mayhem, Fiona. (2018). Mental Health Discord Helped me Recover from Mental Illness. Psyche.

Naslun, John A. Aschbrenner, Kelly A. Marsh, L. A. Bartels, S.J. (2016) The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 25(2), 113-122.

Naslund, John A. Bondre, Ameya. Torous, John. Aschbrenner, Kelly A. (2020) Social Media and Mental Health: Benefits, Risks, and Opportunities for Research and Practice. Journal of Technology in Behavioural Science.  5, 245-257.

Torous, John. Friedman, Rohn. Keshavan, Matcheri. (2014). Smartphone Ownership and Interest in Mobile Applications to Monitor Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions. JMIR Publications. 2(1).

Torous, John. Keshavan, Matcheri. (2016). The role of social media in schizophrenia evaluating risks, benefits, and potential. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 29(3), 190-195. 0000000000000246

Williamson, Elizabeth Highton. Priebe, Stefan. Giacco, Domenico. (2015). Online social networking in people with psychosis: A systematic review. International Journal of Psychiatry. 62(1), 92-101.

27 thoughts on “How social media such as Twitter and Discord can help individuals with mental illness and build communities online

  1. Hi Alexandre,

    Your title definitely struck to me as being an introvert myself it’s quite hard to connect with crowds. I have had my own share of interacting with people through Discord and Streaming and I must say it was a 50/50 experience as it did help with me overcome my shyness, it also put me in a lot of uncomfortable situations (e.g: people sharing too much information about their personal lives, dealing with predators, cyberbullying, etc).

    Though I must say, Discord and Twitch have definitely made the COVID19 pandemic less depressing as I had people interacting and accompanying me play games.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on “fan communities” sharing too much personal information to streamers without any trigger warnings?

  2. Hey Alexandre,

    Great read! I think it’s a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to social media and mental illness. Yes, as you mentioned, social media has the power to bring people who are going through similar situations together, to talk, to counsel and try to overcome them, although I believe a lot of these causes stem from being on social media to begin with. Seeing other peoples problems may also make the person feel even worse about their situation and some may even get trolled online for sharing their situation or judged in person.

    I agree with you that social media definitely helps people to open up more, and allows for users to express their feelings in more depth as they may feel more comfortable typing them out instead of saying them.

    In any sense, I think anything that can help people who are going through challenging times is a good thing!

    All the best!


  3. Hi Alexandre!

    Well done on this paper, this topic was very interesting to read bout as mental illness is not something I have ever had much life experience with. Its quite interesting too see the ways in which social media platforms can benefit and provide people who are unfortunate enough to have said illness with a community and way to stay connected and build rapport with similar individuals. Keep up the good work!

    Regards, Jacob.

  4. Hi Alexandre – thanks for your paper!

    I am very glad to read someone whose paper has similar notations and ideas to mine – thanks for the read.

    I particularly liked your section about chat bots, and how they can shadow the behaviour of humans and act in a way that they do! Do you think that more online platforms should have chat bots, or such intelligence that is so similar in mimicking human experiences?

    I found this article that you may be interested in, which explores why people feel they can trust a bot so much, and the largely appealing anonymity involved!

    Froy, A. (2019). Why The World Needs Trustworthy Chatbots. Medium. Retrieved 16 May 2021, from


  5. Hi Alexandre

    Firstly I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your paper and found it really interesting to read!

    I liked how you spoke about chat bots throughout your paper as I believe that is an important tool that is used every day online. Even the website that I use to buy my makeup and hair products from has a chat bot asking if I need help and too be honest they have helped me before.

    I really enjoyed reading a positive article about social media and mental illness as my paper was on the negative sides of social media.

    Thanks a lot

    Georgia Wiley 🙂

  6. This seems to contradict most studies that say Instagram etc. contribute to heightened levels of anxiety and depression due to a number of factors – individuals presenting only their idealised life experiences, using image manipulation to look better, a over-emphasis on material happiness . A few of these studies are linked below.
    Do you think the help-seeking behaviours of adolescents, in particular, are strong enough to outweigh these negative pressures from social media?
    No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression
    #StatusOfMind: Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing
    Association of Screen Time and Depression in Adolescence (

    1. Hi Yana,

      I think it all depends on the individual, how they are influenced by their families and their friends. Most of the time, knowing adolescents, they’re still young and will just believe almost everything online. But if these people are willing to find help on social media platforms such as Twitter and Discord, there are a lot of communities / servers that would be more than happy to help them out.

  7. Hi Alexandre! I enjoyed reading your paper and absolutely agree that social media such as twitter and discord can be a helping hand for those who has mental illness. But Apart from that, many of them uses instagram instead of twitter and instagram account @chnge and @mentalillnessquitesinfo got a page where they’re used to express and represent those experienced with mental illness to be heard or feeled by majority of people and they got more than 100,000 followers.Instagram also offer direct messages feature or there is the question bar in the Insta Story Picture where you can post a question, or any doubts or insecurities regarding mental health and will be answered by the pages admin making equal or even more beneficial in reaching or being such a helping hand to those experiencing mental illness. So, Which one is the better platform in your opinion twitter or instagram and why?

    1. Hi Youshua,

      In my opinion, I think Twitter is a better platform for those experiencing with mental illness. Twitter is big with its hashtag, so it is faster to spread awareness with it.


  8. Hi Alexandre,
    Your paper was so interesting to read and I learned a lot from it especially about the chatbots which I will definitely look into after this comment. I do agree that social media helps people with mental illness since it did help me. I have met some wonderful people online especially on Discord who understands my struggle and thus help me through it despite not being close to me. I also found out years ago that Instagram has a feature where if you type in “depression” or “suicide” in their search bar, a message will pop up asking if the user needs help and then provides support. I find this really nice especially when the person might not be able to get the help they want or might not be understood in real life. However, do you think social media make it worst? The internet is filled with trolls and bullies so could it be that in some cases it could be for the user?

    1. Hey Munika,
      Thank you for reading my paper. I agree that the Internet is filled with trolls and bullies. However I think social media like Discord where there are tons of communities for individuals who are diagnosed with mental illness are safe for its users, due to the abundance amount of moderators in each server who are active. These moderators will ban any users who show signs of trolling and bullying. This then will make the community a safe place for the users who are diagnosed with mental illness.

  9. Hi Alexandre,

    As someone with a background in psychology I really enjoyed your paper. I do wonder if you have any thoughts on the dangers of self diagnosis or peer diagnosis on social media. For example I am an avid user of tik tok and often watch users who share their own mental struggles. Often the comments are filled with suggestions of a variety of conditions they may have and if these users are young and impressionable this may have an affect on them.
    I do acknowledge that this can be an encouragement to seek further care however I would like to hear your thoughts on this.
    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed your paper, it was super insightful and your writing style was really easy to read and understand. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Kaily

      Thank you for reading my paper. I do agree that suggestions can be made and most of the users are young and impressionable, especially on platforms such as tik tok. However I think individuals with experience when giving suggestions should state that this “specific method” works for them and does not mean it will on another individual. I think platforms like tik tok should filter these type of “information” as most of their users are young and impressionable.

  10. Hi Alexandre,

    Congratulations on a very well written conference paper on an extremely important topic in my opinion. Finally, mental illness is slowly becoming less of a stigma that people are branded with and more of an actual illness that is being recognised by the broader community as effecting so many. It is paramount to an individuals’ mental well-being that they can access someone to talk to and discuss openly how they are feeling and ask for help when they need it. Previously, people with mental illness were made to feel ashamed and shunned by the community but now as you very thoughtfully point out social media has provided a number of forums for anyone needing assistance to find the right group or individual to have a chat with and talk through any problems or negativity they may be feeling. Another very important point you make is that social media offers those who find it difficult to talk face-to-face the anonymity they seek whilst still being able to talk to someone online and receive the assistance they need. This is hugely important for so many people.
    I was very interested to read about Discord in your paper as I had not come across this platform previously and I will certainly read more about it in the near future.
    Thank you Alexandre for a magnificent paper and I hope you enjoy the conference.


    1. Hey Bernie,

      Discord have a lot of community for people who are diagnosed with mental illness and the community itself is growing to a larger number. There they can seek help from other individuals with experience overcoming their problems which this then will slowly help reduce the rate of people who suffers from mental illness. I would like to thank you for reading my paper and I’m glad you are interested !


  11. Hi Alexandre,

    Great paper. I like that you have written about social media’s positive impact on mental health as this is noticeably a less common argument. It was good to include the information about chatbots as I think this improved your argument. I believe with online human interaction involves a lot of negativity, judgement and hate so having the alternative non-human interaction could be benficial as with chatbots. However, I question whether artificial intelligence is capable of understanding the complexity of mental illness. And as you mention, chatbots have few functions so people using this may not find the answer they are looking for or get the help they need. I would love to know the success rates of the chat bots and how they are programmed to deal with such serious issues?

    Once again an interesting read,

    1. Hi Katrina
      Thank you for reading my paper. Although I do not have a specific answer to that, I’m in a Discord server that help deals with mental illness, with a member count of 45,000. During my time there, most of the users had commented that the chatbots has helped them a lot to go through their day. Chatbots are programmed to work alone from a human operator. People communicate with these chatbots through chat just like they would with a person. Chatbots have pre written answer by people, so if an individual ask a question, there will already be an answer for it. If the Chatbot couldn’t answer the individual’s question or give a solution, they will ask if you would like to speak to a professional about it in that specific Discord server.

      Hope this helps,

  12. Hi Alexandre,
    This was an interesting read – I hadn’t heard about chatbots before! While you make some good points, however, I am inclined to disagree with you. I can recognise some benefits of social media on mental health, but ultimately I think it causes more harm than good. Here’s my argument:
    People become isolated the more they use social media and, therefore, become withdrawn from real world relationships that are more important to our mental health than digital relationships are. This is because real-world communities can actually offer physical support and direct, authentic connection. Online communities, meanwhile, are but false intimacy (Amedie, 2015, p. 9), based on the explicit presentation of a user’s number of “friends” or “followers” – but that is all they are; statistics, and not real relationships. Similarly, digital connections are also not as meaningful because they are just personas fabricated for the digital world and not real representations of real people – and that is not even to mention the possibility of complete false identities of users with ill-intentions (i.e. cyberbullying, scammers, hackers, predators, cat-fishers, etc).
    Likewise, as you mention; socially vulnerable people, particularly those with mental illness, use social media as a way to connect with likeminded communities. This is because digital worlds are perceived to have less risk, and are therefore easier to manage than face-to-face socialisation (Onder, 2019). The result of this, however, is that people become addicted to wanting reassurance, validation and a sense of belonging, and these forces can keep them from actually presenting their true selves and their real troubles and sentiments. Rewarded by the systems of ‘likes’, ‘upvotes’ and ‘views’, reinforcing “desirable” behaviour, as well as the self-comparisons drawn between oneself and the beauty, happiness and success standards of others (Amedie, 2015, p. 8), users become compelled to present only their “best” self, or exaggerate their “desirable” behaviours (Grieve et al, 2019). Counterintuitively, however, this can cause unhappiness. A study by the University of Michigan found that upwards of 70% of Facebook users show symptoms of depression, caused by excessive use of social media (Amedie, 2015, p. 6). Addiction, in turn, causes withdrawal from those aforementioned real-world relationships that are so important to our mental well-being.
    Furthermore, you mention that there are communities for everything and everyone, so they can find support. I argue, however, that this isn’t always a good thing. For example, there have been platforms for eating disorder support and, of course, this attracts people suffering from anorexia or bulimia, mostly young girls. But a number of these platform have actually been PROMOTING these disorders, claiming they are safe and legitimate “diets”, and encouraging girls to fast by using dangerously-thin models as “thinspiration”, and offering suggestions on how to hide the self-inflicted starvation from “unsupportive” family (Borzekowski et al, 2011). This is a terrifying example of how social media “communities” can actively harm someone’s mental health.
    So, ultimately, I believe social media does more harm than good. I don’t believe digital relationships are as authentic or useful as real-world ones, as they are based on and encourage statistics and inauthentic personas. I also think digital platforms attract the most mentally vulnerable people and, thus, end up furthering their isolation and diminishing their mental well-being (Onder, 2019, p. 78).
    What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!

    Amedie, J. (2015). The impact of social media on society. Pop Culture Intersections, 2(1), 1-18.

    Borzekowski, D., Schenk, S., Wilson, J., & Peebles, R. (2011). E-ana and e-mia: A content analysis of pro-eating disorder web sites. American Journal of Public Health, 100(8), 1525-1534.

    Grieve, R., March, E., & Jarrah, W. (2019). Inauthentic self-presentation on Facebook as a function of vulnerable narcissism and lower self-esteem. Computers in Human Behaviour, 102(1), 144-150.

    Onder, B. (2019). The predictive relationships between the social media addiction and society anxiety, loneliness and happiness. International Journal of Progressive Education, 15(4), 73-77.

    1. Hey Amelia

      Thank you for your time on reading my paper.

      Through social media, people who tend to feel uncomfortable or insecure in communicating face to face, can find a community online where they will be motivated by users. These motivation can help the user to overcome their “fear” of communicating online and help them develop the want to interact face to face. I used to be someone who is not interested to interact face to face, but I joined an online community where people tell me that “it’s not that bad outside”. They opened my mind and now I interact a lot in the offline world. The specific social media platform I mentioned on my paper (Discord) is different from other social media such as Instagram and Facebook. The community that helps individual with mental illness in Discord is really supportive and caring for its users. There you can express yourself with no one judging you. These type of servers are well monitored by Moderators.

  13. Hi Alexandre,

    Very interesting paper! I wasn’t aware that these mental health chat-bots existed, and they’re very fascinating to learn about.

    While these chat-bots seem to be very helpful for people struggling with mental illness, do you think there are any issues involved with them? For example, mental illnesses can be extremely complex. Is it possible for artificial intelligence to truly understand and treat these certain complexities, as a human would? If not, does this put the individual in danger of getting the wrong treatment from an AI?

    Very interested to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hey Asha,
      Thank you for reading my paper. These chatbots are great dealing with individuals that are diagnosed with mental illness. These chatbots will help by for example, reminding you that you are enough, asking you about your day etc. However there are some limitations to it. For example, these chatbots aren’t able to solve/answer all of your questions or problems however if these chatbots couldn’t answer, it will ask you if you would like to speak to someone who can deal with complicated issues/questions in the Discord server.


  14. Hi Alexandre,
    I enjoyed reading your paper. It is well-written and researched. It was wonderful to read that social media actually encourages people with mental illness to seek help. That is a major benefit. My paper that I linked below also explored how online platforms can help LGBT teens feel connected when they have mental health issues.

    While social media has positive benefits, do you think there are any negative ones?

    1. Hi Tiffany
      Thanks a lot for reading my paper. There are of course negative impact of social media. During these past few years, spreading false news through social media has been a big impact which then lead to bigger issues especially during the uprising of COVID-19 where people spread false news about how 5G is the cause of COVID-19 to spread.

      Hope this helps!

  15. Hello Alexandre,

    I love the paper, I would like to know what is the percentage of people who talk to the chat bot actually find a person to talk to and did it change their lives.

    Anyways great Job!

    1. Hey Faneeshwar !

      Thanks a lot for reading my paper. Though I couldn’t get an exact percentage, but according to a study in Standford, weabot has reduced depression symptoms on most of it’s users.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

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