A study conducted by an associate professor at California State University – Fullerton (CSUF) has found that supportive text messages can help improve the mental health of college students.
Titled “Just Text Me: Investigating the Effects of Computer-Mediated Social Support on Mental Health Outcomes Among Millennial and Generation Z Populations,” the study surveyed more than 3,700 college students 18 to 35.
Human communication studies instructor and lead author Tara Suwinyattichaiporn said a simple check-in message from a friend or a family member helps students overcome feelings of isolation and depression.
“It means a lot to receive a supportive text from friends and family, especially during this time of COVID-19 and being more isolated than usual,” she explained in a press release.
Most of the respondents admitted to feeling less stressed and isolated when they receive more social support from friends and family through texting. Because of this, Suwinyattichaiporn encourages people to check in with their friends and offer support if they seem to be in distress.
More Into Online Counseling
The press release cited a Pew Research Center study where it was found that nearly everyone from 18 to 35 has a smartphone and sends an average of 110 messages per day.
With that in mind, Suwinyattichaiporn cited this method of communication as an ideal way to support students’ mental health.
The professor also said that people in this demographic are much more likely to utilize online counseling than in-person counseling because they “feel safe and protected from negative responses when engaging in counseling via texting.”
She also disputes claims that counselling by phone or online is less personal and less effective, saying online counseling services such as Talkspace and BetterHelp are available at all times while face-to-face counseling is not.