247474 Participatory and social media to engage youth in mental health help-seeking behaviors

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ashley Wennerstrom, MPH , Community Affairs and Health Policy, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Benjamin Springgate, MD, MPH , RAND Corporation, New Orleans, LA
Twenty percent of young people have a diagnosable mental disorder. Prevalence of severe mental illness among some sub-populations such as college students has increased dramatically in the last decade. Stigma, failure to recognize symptoms, inability to access services, and other barriers prevent fully 70 percent of youth with mental disorders from receiving adequate care. Digital forms of communication including social networking sites, mobile devices, and interactive websites show promise for engaging hard-to-reach populations in health-seeking behaviors for highly stigmatized conditions. We will outline the public health sector's current use of youth-oriented social media technologies to combat mental health associated stigma, increase symptom recognition, facilitate entry to care, and support therapy delivery. We will highlight informal, social media-based efforts including online communities that offer social support to youth unable or unwilling to access formal care. We discuss the strengths and limitations of the application of these media to date, and raise questions about the future use of these media for engaging youth in addressing stigmatized public health issues.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three barriers that prevent young people to receiving adequate care for mental illness. 2. Describe two ways that social media support youth engagement in health-seeking behaviors for mental illness . 3. Discuss two ways that social media offer support to youth with mental disorders.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on community-based mental health projects for several years and I conducted this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.