In a proud moment that highlights our institution’s commitment to excellence and innovation, we are thrilled to share the success of a recent poster presentation that graced the global stage.Dr Aswini S, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at SRM University-AP recently represented the varsity at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention in Washington, DC from August 3 – 5, 2023. The occasion was a prestigious Poster Presentation, titled, “The Other Side of Support: Toxic Social Reactions Experienced by Individuals with Mental Illness”
Social support is undeniably an important aspect of everyday life, and it is particularly
important in the context of challenges. The role of social support as a protective factor is well established (Wright et al., 2013) in research, especially in the context of mental illness (Frame, 1981; Teo et al., 2020). While acknowledging the overwhelming evidence on the importance of social support, there is scant literature on the negative experiences of seeking and receiving support. The qualitative investigation revealed the toxic social reactions under the disguise of social support as reported by participants with mental illness (N=17). Participants experienced interactions which sometimes resembled social support but were either harmful or not beneficial to them. The frequently reported reactions of participants are trivialising of symptoms, toxic positivity, and fake sympathy. In comparison to physical illness, the indicators of mental illness are less objectively perceptible to others. Hence, the practice of dismissing symptoms and attributing disorders as momentary feelings, or imaginary experiences are found to be common. Moreover, the suggestion to be positive and reject anything that may trigger negative emotions along with the display of fake sympathy by people around is also found in participant narratives. This signifies the importance of studying social support through different dimensions rather than just focusing only on support that is helpful and beneficial. Future explorations can focus on understanding specific sources of support, kinds of support and the impact that such challenges have on the quality of relationships with significant others.
Keywords: Toxic positivity, mental illness, social support
The remarkable achievement underscores not only the quality of education we provide but also the dedication of our faculty in making impactful contributions to their fields.