Diet & Nutrition

New social networking program bans internet trolls to help people cope with anxiety

A new study by MIT reveals social networking program, Panoply, helps users cope with anxiety and mental health with the findings proving it's "especially helpful for depressed individuals."

By Emily Brooks
With Education Minister Christopher Pyne and the Opposition’s Penny Wong weighing in on the mental health debate on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, the treatment of depression and other mental health issues is a hot topic this week.
After being criticised by another Q&A panellist and US comedian, Ruby Max for not funding the mental health crisis properly, the government may find answers in an unlikely place - social media.
Panoply is a social networking program allowing its users to post comments about stressful situations and depressed thoughts. Their distressed comments are soothed by responses of encouragement and positive approaches from other users.
Participants in the study conducted by MIT were randomly divided into two groups and asked to post any stressed or depressed thoughts, with one group posting these through an online expressive writing tool and the other group posting to Panoply.
Those using Panoply “engaged its users and was especially helpful for depressed individuals,” the study concluded.
Usually on the internet, with praise comes criticism, but there is no place for trolls on Panoply.
Any abusive posts are automatically detected and deleted while statements of self-harm are deleted too, with the user posting the material receiving an automatic email providing links to mental health resources.
With the study testing 166 participants successfully from the ages of 18 to 35, the research will need to be applied to a larger and more diverse audience before any discussion of launching the program can commence, according to the study’s co-authors, Robert R Morris, Stephen M Schueller and Rosalind W Picard.
With one in five Australians suffering from a mental illness each year and the number of social media users only growing, if Panoply were to launch in this country it would certainly be received with praise.

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