Background: Despite the growing interest in developing and using mobile health (mHealth) and digital technologies in mental health, little is known about the scope and nature of virtual community inclusion. Objective: The overarching goal of this study was to understand and conceptualize virtual community inclusion of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). Specific objectives of this study were as follows: (1) mapping the prevalence, trends, and experiences related to mHealth and digital technology use among individuals with SMI; (2) comparing patterns of technology use by individuals with and those without SMI; and (3) examining whether use of mHealth and digital technologies predicts recovery among individuals with SMI. Methods: A web-based survey of technology use and virtual participation was developed and distributed among adults with and those without SMI via social media, national email discussion lists, nonprofit organizations, and advocacy groups. Results: A total of 381 adults aged 18 years or older participated in the survey, of whom 199 (52%) identified as having a SMI. Participants with SMI reported significantly greater access to technology and significantly fewer days of face-to-face participation in community activities than those without SMI. Among participants with SMI, greater technology use was positively associated with positive emotions and significantly predicted recovery. Conclusions: This study is the first to explore, map, and conceptualize virtual community inclusion among adults with SMI. Our findings indicate a gap in the literature and research on community inclusion and participation, and emphasize the need for virtual community inclusion, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and its future implications.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 Carmit Noa Shpigelman, Amir Tal, Yaara Zisman-Ilani.
- Digital community inclusion
- Digital community participation
- Mobile health
- Serious mental illness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health