Study: Social media can help boost people’s well-being following natural disaster

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Social media platforms like Facebook can help support the health and wellbeing of people following a natural disaster, a study claims. A wellbeing campaign called ‘All Right?’ was created in 2013 to support people’s mental health and wellbeing following the devastating Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 in New Zealand.

The research, published in the journal Health Promotion International, showed that 85 per cent of respondents to an online survey had taken action as a result of what they had seen on the campaign’s Facebook page.

“While social media provides a great platform to have a conversation with a community, a lot of the time it can fall flat or feel preachy,” said Ekant Veer, associate professor at University of Canterbury at New Zealand.

“What ‘All Right?’ has shown is that by getting the tone right, tapping into people’s everyday experiences, and alternating between engaging and specialised content, social media can be a force for good,” said Veer.

Almost all respondents agreed that the Facebook posts were helpful and gave respondents ideas of things they can do to help themselves.

“The Facebook page goes far beyond simply telling people what’s good for them. It’s led to actual behaviour change that is improving the wellbeing of people in Canterbury,” said Veer.

The research demonstrates the importance of mental health promotion, the team said.