The language of mental health problems in social media

Abstract

Authors contributed equally to this work. Abstract Online social media, such as Reddit, has become an important resource to share personal experiences and communicate with others. Among other personal information, some social media users communicate about mental health problems they are experiencing, with the intention of getting advice, support or empathy from other users. Here, we investigate the language of Reddit posts specific to mental health, to define linguistic characteristics that could be helpful for further applications. The latter include attempting to identify posts that need urgent attention due to their nature, e.g. when someone announces their intentions of ending their life by suicide or harming others. Our results show that there are a variety of linguistic features that are discriminative across mental health user communities and that can be further exploited in subsequent classification tasks. Furthermore , while negative sentiment is almost uniformly expressed across the entire data set, we demonstrate that there are also condition-specific vocabularies used in social media to communicate about particular disorders. Source code and related materials are available from: https: //github.com/gkotsis/ reddit-mental-health.

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