Social Media as a Tool for Addressing Behavioral Health
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has been working social media channels for the past tow years, offering information and resources about behavioral health issues with the goal of reaching more people and influencing public understanding about mental and substance use disorders.
SAMHSA notes that there is added value of social media in providing a conversation component. "We can actually listen to what people are saying and then engage in two-way dialog."
Some examples of SAMHSA grantees that have used these approaches include:
- The Medical University of South Carolina Ethnic Minority Preventative Outreach and Web-based Education for Risk Reduction (EMPOWERR), which uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr to reach African American, Latino, and LGBTQ youth aged 12 to 18. Its efforts on Facebook and Twitter, for example, have helped connect 171 individuals to HIV testing providers — including six individuals who were reported to be HIV positive and were linked to treatment.
- The William F. Ryan Community Health Center, Inc. has expanded its substance abuse and HIV testing services through targeted prevention messaging to high-risk racial and ethnic minority MSM populations in New York City using various social media platforms and a mobile app.