User Engagement with Mental Health Videos on YouTube

  • Tami Oliphant


Introduction: Mental health is a primary determinant of well-being, and as more people look online for mental health information, YouTube is an increasingly important information source. Although authoritative organizations such as the World Health Organization post videos to YouTube, when retrieved these videos are interspersed with personal, commercial, governmental, television or other media segments, and institutional videos. YouTube was searched for videos on mental health to measure user engagement with these videos. It was hypothesized that videos posted to YouTube that contained personal narratives would generate more user engagement in terms of more video view counts, likes, and number of comments. Methods: YouTube was searched for mental health information using three different search terms and phrases: “depression,” “bipolar disorder,” and “mental health.” The first 20 results for the terms depression and bipolar disorder were screen captured and for the search phrase mental health the first 40 videos were screen captured. All 80 videos were categorized according to video producer type and analyzed using YouTube metrics including number of “likes,” view counts, and comments to measure user engagement with the videos. Results: The majority of videos returned in the top results were posted by laypersons and the videos focus on the poster's personal experience (38%) followed by videos produced for television and other media (29%). Videos that contain personal narratives and experiential knowledge generate the most user engagement and are preferred sources for users searching for mental health information. Discussion: Users’ greater engagement with personal videos indicates that there is an important role for librarians and information professionals in assisting users in deciding what mental health information is accurate, authoritative, and reliable regardless of the authority of the video producer. In addition, the results of this research might inform best practices for professional organizations posting videos to YouTube.
How to Cite
Oliphant, T. (2013). User Engagement with Mental Health Videos on YouTube. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association / Journal De l’Association Des bibliothèques De La Santé Du Canada, 34(3), 153-158.
Research Articles