Relating 4 new media concepts to mental health

Blimey…  my head is simultaneously bursting with my attempts to retain a whole load of new media literature and crushed by the realisation that my brain is way out of practice and needs significant re-tuning.   My discovery of the pomodoro technique  and app (free) has definitely helped me focus though and I’d recommend it to any other PhD procrastinators…  

I’m beginning to think about how new media literature relates to issues that arise for me in a work context when thinking about social networking by people with lived experience and/or working in mental health services.

Here are a few initial thoughts, questions and ponderings arising from a number of new media concepts outlined by Terry Flew in New Media: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Digital divide – there’s lots of data out there about who isn’t and isn’t using social media. Who’s in and who’s out. I am curious about how people who are using our services are using social media? And what proportion of them are using social media to consume and produce information about mental health and wellbeing, for peer support, or to campaign? What’s the role of services in supporting digital inclusion and can we build this in to our care pathways?  How are staff within our NHS Trust using social media both personally and professionally? Are they making the connections and, if so, how? I plan to develop this thinking during the course of my research.

Collective intelligence – I’m interested in the capacity of social media to expand collective knowledge and how, in particular, stories shared by people with lived experience of mental health issues interact with knowledge developed by health professionals and provided by services – are they consistent, do they conflict or somewhere in between? What are the differences and what do these differences tell us? I wonder about the extent to which personal stories can shift stigmatising attitudes towards mental ill-health for professionals as well as the public.

Participation – the open and interactive properties of social media intrigue me. To what extent can social media act as a catalyst to re-calibrate interactions between people with expertise from lived experience and expertise from their professional training? To what extent will offline relationships be replicated online? I observe lots of people with lived experience sharing with each other online.  I see some professionals sharing with each other online. I haven’t yet seen too much cross over. I suspect people are still working out the boundaries and professional bodies are beginning to catch up, as evidenced, for example, by recent BMA guidance for doctors and students. Some evidence suggests that mental health professionals themselves contribute to mental health stigma, particularly in a desire for social distance. To what extent is this replicated or otherwise online?

Networks – there’s lots of evidence to show that social networks are good for our mental health and wellbeing. How does this work online? Flew notes how the internet creates scale, speed and complexity to social networks. I am curious about the extent to which online networks have or don’t have the same protective factors as offline social networks for mental health and wellbeing. There’s a whole load of mental health and new media literature to synthesise on this theme.

So there are just a few thoughts and pondering from my very initial reading. I know there are many people out there with many of the answers and I’d love to hear comments and thoughts from any of you and any suggestions for further reading. Thank you. Victoria

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4 Responses to Relating 4 new media concepts to mental health

  1. ClaireOT says:

    Great to see your thinking outlined in the blog, Victoria!

    As a professional working in mental health, I look to my professional organisation and employer’s policies and procedures to guide the use of new media in practice. However, I see a disconnect in the understanding of the possibilities of this new way of interacting coming from the top-down approach, compared with the bottom-up approach of people engaged with navigating these waters.

    The community that comments on my blog and on my Twitterstream contains both professionals and people with lived experience, and the horizontal flow of information in this way enriches the understanding that both groups have of each other’s perspectives.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this will translate into embedding ideals of co-production into mental health service delivery- this journey is just beginning!

    Look forward to the next post!

    • Victoria says:

      Thank you for your comments Claire. Good to hear you are getting that horizontal flow with your blogs and Twitter. Are you aware of public online discussion fora where people with lived experience and professional training come together? the ones I’ve found so far tend to largely be one or the other.

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