Supportive texts can improve student mental health



Academic pressure, independence from family, separation from social support networks at home, and increased social stress can expose millennials and millennials and millennials (18-35 in this study ) at risk for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

One way to reduce this risk? Receive SMS from friends and family.

According to a new study by Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, associate professor of human communication studies at Cal State Fullerton, students receiving a recording text from a friend or family member can help reduce feelings of isolation and depression.

“It means a lot to receive a text of support from friends and family, especially during this time of COVID-19 and to be more isolated than usual,” said Suwinyattichaiporn, who has studied how social support in online can affect and potentially improve the mental health of students. . The research looked at 3,727 students, which consisted of 21% Millennials and 79% Gen Z.

“Just Text Me: Investigating the Effects of Computer-Mediated Social Support on Mental Health Outcomes Among Millennial and Generation Z Populations” was co-authored by Meredith Turner ’18, ’20 (BA, MA human communication studies) and published in the Kentucky Journal of Communication.

Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to use online counseling

Findings from the Pew Research Center indicated that nearly every college-age millennial and Gen Z in the United States owns a smartphone and on average sends more than 110 messages per day.

“They already use this method of communication, so why not use it for good? Asked Suwinyattichaiporn, who was inspired to conduct this research after noting the limited number of studies that explore youth counseling preferences.

She found that students are much more likely to use online counseling when they think the quality will be just as high or better than face-to-face counseling.

Two popular online SMS counseling services are Talkspace and BetterHelp, which offer support entirely online and are therefore more appealing to young adults than counseling over the phone or face to face.

Tara Suwinyattichaiporn
Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, Associate Professor of Human Communication Studies

Suwinyattichaiporn noted that “young people felt safe and protected from negative responses when engaging in SMS counseling.” Sending SMS offers more privacy and a lower risk of someone overhearing a personal conversation.

While some people may think that online counseling is less personal or less effective, Suwinyattichaiporn points out that “online support is available at all times, unlike face to face support”.

Supportive texts reduce stress and depression in college students

College-aged students who receive more social support from friends and family through texting report feeling less stressed and isolated than those who receive little or no social support through texting.

While the results do not suggest that online social support is sufficient to be the only method of preventing feelings of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, Suwinyattichaiporn suggests combining online counseling and text messages for help. best results.

“The main thing I hope people take away from this research is to check in with your friends and family and be there for them.”


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