Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Krista Cline


This study examined individuals’ use of and perceptions of social media networking sites (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) on their perceptions of mental illness. Previous studies have consistently found that media, by means of TV shows, movies, and news reports, depict distorted views of the mentally ill. Previous studies have also consistently found that these media depictions are related to increased stigma of mental illness and the mentally ill. This current study goes a step further by examining the role of social media networking sites on individual’s perceptions, since they are newer and more widely used forms of social media today. This study aimed to answer the research question, “does the use of social media networking sites, and the negative posts on them, perpetuate the stigma of mental illness?” Data was collected using a survey asking participants about their social media use, perceptions of, and attitudes about mental illness, as well as posts they have seen on social media about mental illness. Participants were 183 undergraduate college students at Butler University. The majority of the sample were female, upper-class, Liberal Arts and Sciences students. Using regression analyses, the results of this study showed no significant relationship between social media and mental illness perceptions as hypothesized. Social media use was found to be positively correlated with social media views, and additional analyses indicated that the more one uses social media, the more often they see posts regarding mental illness, as well as see posts involving mass shootings. Gender was found to have a significant relationship with mental illness perceptions. This finding indicated that males, on average, reported higher scores on the mental illness perceptions index, indicating that they hold more stigmatizing views of mental illness in comparison to females.