Purpose: The Internet enables various voices and opinions that previously did not participate in the community discourse to express themselves. People with mental illnesses make use of social networks to advance their special needs in varied ways. The study aims to examine the nature of the discourse that takes place in public and private groups of people with mental illnesses. Design/methodology/approach: The research corpus consisted of the content of 615 messages taken from public and private groups of people with mental illnesses in Facebook. Linguistic parameters (the total number of words, the number of words in the first person) were examined for each message. Two skilled judges classified the messages on a self-disclosure scale to determine the degree of disclosure of personal information, thoughts and emotions. Findings: The results of the study indicate that the messages published in public groups are longer than the messages in private groups; however, the level of personal disclosure in messages written in private groups is deeper than in messages written in public groups. In addition, the level of self-disclosure in opening posts was found to be greater than the level of self-disclosure in comments. Practical implications: In the study, the authors focus on the ways people in excluded populations make use of virtual tools to advance both their personal and social needs. Originality/value: The study is innovative, as it explores the discourse of people with mental illnesses in public and private groups on Facebook.
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- Facebook groups
- Mental illnesses
- Social communities