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Erin Vang
Qualitative Methods Lab 1
For my online participant observation, I chose to immerse myself in the "Mental Health Wa
iors" Facebook group, a community known for its active discussions and support related to mental health issues. I dedicated a focused 2-hour period to observe the dynamics and interactions within the group.
During my observation, I noticed several common themes and patterns. Members frequently shared personal coping strategies, ranging from mindfulness techniques to creative outlets like art therapy. The discussions often revolved around experiences with mental health treatments, with some members advocating for holistic approaches while others shared their journeys with medication.
One striking aspect was the language and terminology used within the group. Members utilized a supportive and empathetic tone, often using phrases like "You're not alone" and "Sending virtual hugs" to express solidarity. Emojis and GIFs were also commonly used to convey emotions and reactions.
As an observer, I reflected on how my presence might impact group dynamics. While I did not actively participate in discussions during this observation, I noted a sense of openness among members, perhaps facilitated by the anonymity and shared experiences within the online setting.
After the observation period, I reviewed my field notes and digital data, including screenshots of key discussions. I filled in details and reflections to enhance my understanding of the observed interactions. Overall, this experience provided valuable insights into the supportive nature of online communities focused on mental health, highlighting the power of shared experiences and empathy in fostering a sense of belonging and support.
Code Initial Impressions:
My observations in the "Mental Health Wa
iors" Facebook group were initially coded in an open-minded manner with no prior judgments. Then, following the open coding procedure, I began to code themes regarding coping strategies, treatment experiences, supportive language, and community dynamics. In this process, every line of observation and screenshot is carefully gone through, with relevant codes assigned to them. Initial codes at this stage included ‘Coping Strategies,’ ‘Medication Discussions,’ ‘Empathy and Support,’ and ‘Community Engagement.’
Linking Codes Analytically
After the first round of coding, there were emerging patterns that allowed me analytically to link and group codes. For example, I noticed that topics dealing with coping strategies often blended with those dealing with medication experiences. In addition, the supportive language and expressions of empathy were always there for all topics. These interconnections motivated me to re-code and develop a meta-na
ative on how supportive interactions and shared experiences shape the overall atmosphere of the group.
Analytical Memo:
From my observation and coding, I've established that support and empathy are perhaps the most basic grounds for online mental health communities like the "Mental Health Wa
iors" Facebook group. Observations based on data from observations and coding show that members actively share coping strategies and treatment experiences, creating a supportive environment. With this, the reframing of a potential research question would be, "How do supportive interactions and shared experiences influence mental health outcomes in online communities?" Further analysis and data collection could include assessing the effect of support mechanisms on individuals' mental well-being, investigating interaction patterns, and the effectiveness of online support networks in terms of reducing the burden of mental health disorders.
Smith, J XXXXXXXXXXThe Business Case for Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace. Harvard Business Review, 98(5), 76-83.
Johnson, L., & Williams, K XXXXXXXXXXCreating a Culture of Psychological Safety: Strategies for Leaders. Harvard Business Review, 99(3), 54-61.

1. NEW COMPONENT: Reflection Paper – A 2-4-page typed summary of your experience that includes the following:
a. Describe the field setting (include any pictures or descriptions) and why/how you selected it.
. Describe your observation process, how you took notes, coded and developed your codes and how you developed your one-paragraph findings.
c. Describe your “findings.” Did your observation yield anything new regarding your understanding of the observed group? How did this relate to your assumptions about the setting/context of your study? What might be the next step if you continued your research? What other methods might you turn to in order to probe the context further and better answer your research question?
d. Describe what you learned from the process of doing online participant-observation. What (if anything) would you do the same if you continued your study? Is there anything you would change about your process? What and why?
e. Reflect on any ethical issues you faced and how you managed them. If you were to continue your study, what additional ethical issues would you need to consider?
f. Finally, reflect on your experience with both qualitative and quantitative methods. Which do you prefer? Which do you believe to be best for the question that you tackled in this assignment? What would have to change for this project to become quantitative?
Answered Same Day May 08, 2024


Dilpreet answered on May 09 2024
4 Votes
Summary of the Experience
a. The chosen field setting is that of a Facebook group known as the “Mental Health Wa
iors.” It is a community known for its active discussions and support related to mental health issues. I selected this field as I will get to know a range of mental health issues by being in contact with people coming from different backgrounds and experiences.
c. As far as my observation processes is to be considered, I took notes on several common themes and patterns. I also managed to gather some digital data by taking screenshots of the key discussions. To summarise my findings into a single paragraph, I reviewed my notes and the digital data and complied it with my personal experiences of being a part of such a group.
d. As far as my findings are to be considered, the first thing I notices is that online communities related to mental health issues are quite supportive and help to gain valuable insights. I also developed an understanding of the power of shared experience and empathy to foster a sense of support among...

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