Twittering for Mental Health Non-profits

I have been on Twitter for a few years. I am not an active tweeter, and have used it at times to to communicate with friends, and coworkers I shared an office with. It was more of an entertaining way to communicate than an information sharing tool.

During the last year I have been using Twitter more at conferences as a way to join the conversation and participate on a deeper, more meaningful way. I would tweet quotes from inspiring key note speakers, follow presenters, and post questions to the conference main page and use the conference hashtag to connect with other conference attendees.

This week I explored #mentalhealth on Twitter. I wanted to see what was out there and learn about what non-profits, and other organizations that serve children, youth, and families, post on twitter, and see how users connect with them. I started my search by entering “children’s mental health”, “addiction”, and “behavioral health” in the search bar. I found a few organizations that lead me to others. This was interesting and a good start, however after reviewing Chapter4 in Mansfield’s book Social Media for Social Good, I went to the discover tab on Twitter and entered #mentalhealth.  Using the broad category of #mentalhealth was a much more effective strategy for finding relevant and engaging tweets. Users who included the #mentalhealth in their tweets ranged in topics and I was excited to see the big leagues (NAMI–National Alliance of Mental Health, APA–American Psychiatric Association, and even NIMH–National Institute of Mental Health) posting regularly. I was really surprised at the level of engagement of major mental health organizations and how accessible twitter makes users.

Another surprise was seeing how these organizations retweeted (and were retweeted by) other users. This web of stories strung together by being shared and re-shared by users was fascinating to me. In a very concrete way you can see professional collaborations and networks. This is something funders have been asking for on the service side, and being able to demonstrate this kind of communication strategy of information sharing collaboration would be very beneficial to non-profits. One group I came across @MentalHealthAM (Mental Health America–non-profit advocacy group) retweeted a video @CAMH (Canada’s Centre for Mental Health and Addiction) posted about an awesome app for youth to help them manage and access their mental health services and safety plan (why oh why didn’t I think of this!?)

http://camhblog.com/2014/07/16/be-safe-app-for-youth-a-community-creating-chang

Another discovery I made this week was seeing how advanced some Mental Health organizations are becoming using social media tools and technology like infographics and videos. Check out this infographic on #mentalhealth and diverse populations.

APA infograph

This week the main topic of conversation with #mentalhealth was discrimination and acceptance of people with mental illness. Mental Health leaders were posting videos, discussions, and pictures that all focused on this. It was great to see smaller non-profit service and advocacy agencies represented in the feed. I was spending way too much time on here and had to remind myself I am not the social media person at my job!

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4 thoughts on “Twittering for Mental Health Non-profits

  1. I like the APA poster. In years past, I have not been a fan of “ethnic categorization” because I believe it is nothing more than a social construct. What I like about the APA poster is that it shows mental health is a people problem and not a problem of any one “group” of people. I enjoyed your post.

    • Hi Morris,
      I agree with you about not being a fan of ethnicity and race categorization, however this social construction has real implications for health as we learned about in our Culture, and Public Health Practice class. I really liked this poster for the same reason. It shows the human aspect of mental health. Mental illness affects people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and economic status. It is definitely a people problem and not specific to one group.

  2. I loved your comment on how retweeting posts and then those being retweeted again created networking across organizations and collaboration. I hadn’t thought of it that way and I can see how valuable it would be. Before this class I would not have thought that funders would take the retweeting of posts of a company as an example of that organizations reach or their activity in social media as a communication strategy, but now I can see how it would work. Thanks!

    • Yes this is something that really stood out to me as a really easy and concrete way to show collaboration. I think that some folks may have a hard time really excepting this though. There are a lot of people that haven’t bought in to the importance of this type of communication yet.

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