Wasatch Family Therapy director Julie Hanks, LCSW participated as a paneist on an online therapy presentation at South By Southwest conference last weekend in Austin, TX. Adam Pedowitz of WCG, a health care communications company, interviewed Hanks on the benefits that online resources may have for mental health patients. Julie discusses educating the public regarding mental health matters and the benefits that an online presence can have for practitioners. Here are a few highlights…
Benefits of online support:
Common for mental health patients is a sense of isolation and being alone in their struggles. Social media and other online forums provide amazing opportunities for patients get support and connect with others who are experiencing similar mental health challenges. Developing a supportive online community can act as a way help to normalize their feelings, and provide helpful information, advice and advocacy.
How technology is changing patient/provider interactions:
While therapists still need to guard against development of dual relationships (relationships outside of the therapy office) with their specific clients, I’m seeing a shift in the way mental health practitioners and patients interact online in terms of sharing educational information.
Where will we be in 10 years with regard to online mental health?
In 10 years I hope mental health graduate training programs will have business and marketing classes that include technology education, like how to build an online presence, how to understand SEO, what makes an effective practice website, and how to build a Twitter following. Social workers, in particular, are known for their grass roots efforts. Social media allows for the largest grass roots advocacy and education we’ve ever seen. With the push of a button one person can send a compelling message or call-to-action to millions.
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