With mental health and substance abuse providers constantly seeking out the latest in treatment information and with their clients becoming much more involved in their own treatment, Social Media is becoming the tool of choice for researching information on specific behavioral health topics.
With the proper Social Media Use Policies in place, behavioral care treatment providers can easily “connect” with client populations by authoring blogs that satisfy their informational curiosities and needs and that are written in a layman language that they can easily understand and identify with. This is only the front end of the benefit.
A successfully authored blog post also encourages it readers to share comments and to subscribe to the blog by RSS feed or even to “follow” the author on Twitter. What a great way to generate interest in those who may be curious about what a particular “expert” blogger has to share with and offer the greater client population. Often this interest results in the formation of client – treatment provider professional relationship.
In addition, Social Media affords e-clients (those who use the Web to aid in their own treatment) and Social Media savvy behavioral care professionals to help spread useful information around any network that might therapeutically benefit from it. This therapeutic online synergy can only be considered a “miracle” of Social Media. It is living proof that Web technology has further evolved to innovate more quick and efficient ways to help the mentally ill and substance abusers in more ways than ever before. Millions of people are benefiting from having enlightening information available at their fingertips at any hour of the day or evening.
Consider some of the positive ways Social Media is helping the behavioral health community forge ahead on its helping mission.
• Advocates and e-clients are now easily able to identify their legislators; review proposed legislation, online; and share their personal and advocated views directly with their elected representatives as well as with the community-at-large. As a result of the growth of Social Media, countless federal and state bills that can undoubtedly affect the lives and careers of behavioral health consumers and their treatment professionals have been suggested, supported or dumped thanks to the comprehensive dialogs conducted over the Web during their initial considerations.
• Behavioral health practitioners and field consultants are regularly sharing their thoughts and best practices on Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Blogs and on weekly podcasts, just to name a few outlets. What better way to stay on top of advancements and who is responsible for helping them take place?
• At their Websites, behavioral health organizations of all kinds include their recommended links for all sorts of informative articles, conference notifications, job openings and RFPs. They also often share their recommendations and reviews with an increasingly interested audience on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter.
No longer does one have to wait for and rummage through a whole litany of monthly and quarterly professional journals and newsletters to get information that is readily available on the Web.
The “word” surrounding Social Media within the professional circles of the behavioral health treatment community has not all been positive, thus far. In fact, in many health care circles including the medical profession, there is some ambivalence about what is being called the “e-movement.” The e-movement accounts for the growing momentum of Social Media, which has made it often the very first place many people go to locate a diagnosis and to find out what treatment options, are available to them. They used to just call a Dr. or a counselor and make an appointment to come in for a consultation. Not so much, anymore.
Professionals have become very used to being considered “experts” are not