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Building Together: Understanding Social Spaces to Support Mental Health

Kathryn (Kate) Ringland, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow in Digital Mental Health

Department of Communication Studies
Northwestern University

Social engagement and interaction is an important part of the human experience. However, for those with psychosocial disabilities and mental health concerns, there are barriers to the social experience. For some, there is an expectation that these individuals will not be interested in socializing or there is stigma against such individuals. For others, physical symptoms, such as exhaustion, makes certain social interactions more difficult. In this talk, Dr. Ringland will explore two different contexts for sociality. First, she will explore sociality in people with depression and how they leverage their sociality to improve their self-care. Second, she will explore how autistic children engage in social play in an online virtual world, Autcraft. Results from these two studies show the range of sociality in the human experience is perhaps wider than people usually consider. Findings suggest how assistive technology plays a key role in facilitating sociality and can bridge virtual and physical worlds in everyday life.

Presentation date: November 20, 2019.