Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Aisling Heade 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Aisling and I am 22 years old. I chose to follow the clinical path of the Applied Psychology course as I wish to become a clinical psychologist in the future. I am passionate about providing better services for mental health in Ireland specifically, as I feel this area needs more attention. In the Summer of 2023, I was fortunate enough to travel to the U.S. to work with individuals with physical and mental disabilities, which further solidified my desire to be part of the clinical psychology field.

Project Description

The study investigated the online disclosures of mental health concerns posted on the 'r/mentalhealth' subreddit, with a focus on primary and throwaway accounts in January and July of 2023. Through Braun and Clarke's (2021) reflexive thematic analysis, disinhibition types were explored in both account types, drawing on Suler's (2004) 'Online Disinhibition Effect'. The findings exhibited throwaway users utilizing Reddit to seek anonymity and refuge, while primary accounts engage in internal processing and validation-seeking.

Project Objectives

The study aimed to investigate disinhibition types and lived experiences among Reddit users posting about mental health concerns, specifically exploring if disinhibition types differed in throwaway versus primary accounts. The objectives included examining the types of disinhibition displayed by both account types, in relation to Suler's (2004) theory, exploring how these users navigated internal struggles and treatment challenges, as well as understanding the navigation of interpersonal relationships. Through the application of thematic analysis, the study aimed to contribute to the understanding of mental health discourse online.

Project Outcomes

Through the identification of four themes- 'Type of Disinhibition', 'Addressing Internal Struggles', 'Encountering Challenges in Treatment' and 'Navigating Interpersonal Relationships', the present study findings explored the ways in which throwaway users displayed a prevalence of disinhibition types such as 'hiding within an online community' and 'experiencing online interactions internally', which suggests a tendency for using online support networks for perceived anonymity and support-seeking. In contrast, primary account users demonstrated a greater propensity for experiencing online reactions internally, suggesting comfort in open disclosures within the online community.

Thesis Title

Comparative Reflexive Thematic Analysis of Throwaway and Primary Account Posts on ‘r/mentalhealth’