Methods: Study One employed qualitative thematic analysis to examine publicly available data from two, key social media engagements targeting Black audiences (N = 2000 comments) (DJ D-Nice’s “Club Quarantine'' and the VERZUZ online series). Study Two utilized data garnered from focus groups conducted with Black women therapists and social media users to examine their beliefs about trauma, healing, self-care, as well as, their online and offline practices related to healing and self-care.
Results: Final analysis revealed that when speaking about their experience attending these online engagements, participants highlighted the utility of these online spaces as avenues of self-guided healing and community care. Relevant themes included describing the necessity and accessibility of such online spaces, as well as, their timeliness in relation to stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread instances of police brutality against black bodies. Other prominent themes included the utility of virtual spaces to supplement social and interpersonal connection, as well as, their ability to contribute to shifts in thinking, behavior, and emotional state. Notably, participants' responses centered community-level, in addition to, individual-level care.
Conclusions and Implications: In spite of systemic failings, Black women often find ways to manage self-care and healing independent of traditional mental health models. Social media and health research have commonly focused on threats of overuse, harassment, and supporting patient-client engagement and health communication. We propose that social media platforms function as venues for self-guided care, particularly for Black women, and are a significant and under-examined area of research. This study provides key implications for telehealth service provision for Black communities and, more specifically, for Black women. These results indicate that virtual and social media spaces are being utilized by Black audiences to engage in self and community care, wellness, and healing. As we seek ways to increase the accessibility of telehealth services, social media engagements, like these, have the potential to directly inform culturally-grounded techniques to deliver mental health services to Black communities.