Hope on YouTube: Mixed Methodology Bridges Mental Health YouTubers and Viewers’ Perspectives





YouTube, hope, hope for change, mental health, therapeutic relationship


The need for accessible therapeutic solutions has been highlighted by the observed youth mental health crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking solutions involves a varied pathway, blending traditional therapist-client interactions with everyday aspects, like social media, particularly YouTube, which is used for informal counseling and as an entry point to formal mental healthcare. YouTube mental health content viewers value autopathographies (APs) for interest and mental health professional (MHP) content for information validity, both recently increasing. Hope, a non-specific factor fostering therapeutic change and building the therapist-client relationship, is crucial in the complex pathway to change. Unfortunately, this intricate pathway is often overlooked in psychological and media communication research. Additionally, relevant literature lacks guidance on effectively leveraging social media for user mental health. This study explores hope levels for therapeutic change in APs and MHP content viewers, focusing on the content’s role in informal online counseling. Through a mixed methods approach, viewer hope is gauged through direct viewer surveys and indirectly through YouTube content creator interviews. Additionally, the viewer's perception of YouTubers within the informal counselor-client relationship is assessed, influencing counseling effectiveness. Findings indicate that YouTube's APs and MHP content can increase the possibility for therapeutic change for high-hope viewers in formal and informal counseling, underscoring the crucial role of the YouTuber-viewer relationship in informal online counseling. YouTube emerges as a valuable addition to an individual's mental health toolkit.

Author Biographies

Stavroula Ziavras, The American College of Greece

Stavroula Ziavras, Research Assistant at CoEFTL, The American College of Greece Research Center. MA in Digital Communication and Social Media, honored with the Graduate Achievement Award. Research spans digital communication and psychology, emphasizing social media's impact on mental health. Engaged in diverse projects, from food marketing to social media strategies.

Katerina Diamantaki, The American College of Greece

Katerina Diamantaki, Assistant Professor at The American College of Greece, specializes in Communication and Media Studies. Holding a Ph.D. from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, her research centers on new media, digital cultures, and their societal impacts, but also extends to strategic communication, political rhetoric, and media representations.