Postnatal Depressive Symptoms and Social Media Use for Support amongst Mothers and Fathers within the First Year Postpartum

Ilies, Iris-Anda (2023) Postnatal Depressive Symptoms and Social Media Use for Support amongst Mothers and Fathers within the First Year Postpartum. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Iris Anda Ilies PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Aug 2022_Final Award May 2023.pdf - Accepted Version

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Postnatal depression (PND) can have substantial detrimental effects on the wellbeing and adjustment of mothers and fathers, and ultimately on the development of infants. Whilst many parents have chosen to use social media for parenting support and information, it is unclear what role postnatal mental health plays in digital behaviours. This doctoral research aimed to investigate the impact of maternal and paternal PND symptoms on social media usage and perceived social support, gain a detailed insight into the function of social media in parental adjustment, and examine gender differences in online language related to PND. The current research consisted of five individual studies, and it employed a mixed-methods approach, utilising quantitative (self-reported questionnaires), qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and corpus-linguistic techniques to analyse data collected from mothers and fathers with at least one baby under one year old. The results from the quantitative studies indicated that mothers and fathers with higher risk of PND were more likely to engage in online comparisons with other parents, and to report lower levels of perceived social support, compared to parents with low risk of PND. The qualitative studies revealed that parents identified social media sites as advantageous in connecting with other parents and receiving night-time support, as well as disadvantageous due to unreliable information, curated content, and an imbalance in the maternal versus paternal-specific resources. Finally, the fifth study utilised a corpus-linguistic analysis of PND-related Twitter content and revealed that there were gender differences in the language used to discuss PND online. Female Twitter users were found to be more likely to discuss PND from a personal perspective, with the use of adjectives that express difficulty, whereas male Twitter users were focused on the PND experiences of other parents. Twitter accounts representing organisations, such as charities, medical or educational institutions, were considerably more inclined to post content focused on motherhood or maternal PND, with limited content related to fatherhood or paternal PND. Overall, this doctoral research indicated that PND symptoms have a clear impact on digital behaviours and perceived support amongst parents, and that there are problematic discrepancies within the accessibility of maternal and paternal online support. The findings have important clinical and practical implications for improved perinatal healthcare practice, policy change, postnatal mental health awareness, as well as technological additions, in the form of evidence-based online parenting platforms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
30 August 2022Submitted
11 May 2023Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Postnatal depression; social media use; social support; online support; PND; PPD; maternal depression; paternal depression
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Psychology
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2023 13:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 13:02

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