Tagged: social media

Research methods in mental health & social media

Another hot off the press publication…  in it we (Wilson & Usher) give some practical guidance about how to recruit using social media to ensure that mental health research is reaching the right informant audience to investigate mental health questions.

In this paper we argue that research protocols that engage only in traditional forms of media (eg newspaper, TV, radio) to recruit participants may in fact be missing an important informant group – those people who only use social media sources and no longer consume traditional media. We contend that there are ethical and practical implications if we miss these individuals in our samples … and that this might adversely impact our results…

This one has a paywall – so you need to use your library account to access a copy – but if you have trouble – message me and I will find a suitable solution for you to see a copy!

If you are a health or social researcher – you will be interested… if not… this one might be a little on the dull side… (boring disclaimer for the most of the world!) But – fascinating if you are into research and want to make sure we ask the right questions to the right people in the right way to answer our important research questions…

Click here to read the abstract/ summary and download if you can!



Top 5 reasons I’ll follow you on Twitter

Top 5 reasons I’ll follow you on Twitter.

Check out this blog ^ by Research Whisper … Twitter is a fantastic resource – but yes, you have to invest something of yourself into it to make it work…

The only point of difference for me is I am perhaps a bit more flexible with my following decisions. I am happy to follow back novice twitter nurses in particular, to assist with introducing them to nursing colleagues in the Twittersphere. Just like IRL (in real life), networking relies on investing some relationship and by gaining introductions to key stakeholders. My followship is substantial enough to enable me to ‘play nice’ enough to give others a hand along the way. So – if you appear authentic after I run my checks, and you are interested in conversations about #nursing #mentalhealth #ruralhealth #Indigneoushealth #wellbeing #research #academic #HDR … and your not trying to flog me your latest commercial book or product, or your not trying to sell me (or my followers) something – I will probably follow up back! What I will be very interested in is sharing knowledge, transferring health knowledge to real people and situations – so I will always be keen to promote scholarship (peer reviewed) whether it is mine or others. Why? Because I think it is critical to get new ideas out in the public domain – so ideas about improving the world get out where they matter… accessible to the general public and part of the conversation…

Let’s tweet!

Dallas asked me about nurse bloggers…

Nurse bloggers… hadn’t thought of myself like that – but I guess I am!

I had an email from a journalist – Dallas who asked: “I’m writing a feature on nurse bloggers. I was wondering if you would be able to answer the following questions for me:” I thought the best way for a nurse blogger to respond – was…to…blog! So here I go… (challenging the frontiers of journalism and nursing… at the same time I guess!)

• What led you to start up a blog?

I started my blog https://rhondawilsonmhn.com/ Rhonda Wilson MHN: Rural mental health nurse, just before the last federal election. I had previously established a professional digital profile across a number of other social media platforms (eg Twitter, facebook https://www.facebook.com/ruralMHnurse, LinkedIn, ResearchGate) and I had watched a number of other nurse bloggers from around the world for sometime too. What I noticed was that a blog provided an opportunity to contribute to a nursing conversation, and to participate in and initiate conversations about nursing/health broadly, but rural mental health nursing specifically. At that time I was particularly focussed on contributing to a rural perspective on the delivery of mental health care to rural people, and I wanted to ensure that I had done what I could to advocate for a fair representation for rural people to have good quality mental health care when it was needed; especially, for young rural people. I think it is an important professional responsibility for nurses to advocate for the health of people in their community – for me that is advocating for rural mental health care. The blog gave me a new way to advocate. Since then it has developed further to bring together conversations about rural mental health on a wider range of topics.

What do you post on your blog and why do you choose to discuss these types of things?

I try to blog about real life situations because that brings an authenticity to a conversation. I use to think that rural nursing was not very important –and nurses in big metro hospitals must be better than rural nurses… because everything we do seems to be on a small scale in the bush, and we don’t have as many resources to draw from. That belief affected my confidence to some extent, and it has taken a lot of study and practice to come to the realisation that rural nurses are very often the backbone of health care delivery in rural communities – that nurses are a critical social and health capital in rural communities. We are often not seen in upfront roles, and we are sometimes not valued for the important contributions that we make… but rural nurses are the glue that holds health together in rural communities. We are very often specialist generalists. We can cover all bases and do it well… I have only ever worked in rural and regional communities and if you need advanced life support – I can do that, if you need a scrub nurse for an emergency caesarean – I can do that. If you need triage in emergency – I can do that. If you need a paediatric nurse – I can do that. If you need a palliative care nurse – I can do that. If you need someone to home visit and do a dressing on a leg ulcer – I can do that. If you need a drug and alcohol health promotion at the local high school – I can do that. And, if you have a young person with a escalating psychosis – I can sort that too! Rural nurses have skills sets that are eclectic and valuable – different to urban nurses – but critically important in their rural communities. I thought it was about time that rural nurses started to speak up – a blog helps me to do that and to tell the stories of rural mental health nursing in a down to earth way.

Does it bring about any benefits for you personally or professionally?

I think broadening your network and respectfully listening/ reading and talking/ contributing to conversation about rural mental health brings both professional and personal benefit – but not in any tangible sense. Blogging helps me to reflect on my practice as a rural nurse and when other engage with my blogs (and other social media), then that has certainly been useful. The feedback from others has helped me to continue to develop as a professional nurse, and it is that conversation and dialogue with other nurses and health workers that is particularly valuable. Twitter (micro blogging) has brought some professional interactions and introductions that have been especially useful – networking at conferences, or with colleagues internationally has been great. I have one research project team that developed purely through Twitter interactions… the possibilities are endless. I have published a bit about nurses and social media too – I think it is an area of health progress and I wanted to bring some evidence to support new practices – so I have began to work in e-mental health areas – a new health frontier. I don’t know what opportunities might arise in the future – but I am a keen e-pioneer I guess!

Would you suggest other nurses create their own blog? What opportunities can doing so open up?

Yes – I think nursing has incredible potential to influence health and well being of people everywhere using social media and blogs. My advice – start out my lurking (respectfully) for a while – checking out what other nurses are doing in the field. Then, figure out where your own niche is… what do you have to contribute to the disciple? Set up a professional digital footprint… If you want to know how – check this out https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257458308_Nurses_and_Twitter._The_good_the_bad_and_the_reluctant

This paper is a guide to help people figure out how to use social media in health disciplines and it makes some suggestions about how and why it is useful. A stong – ‘get on board’ message to nurses everywhere.

Is this something that you see becoming more common among nurses?

I hope it becomes more common! I think that nurses contribution to e-health generally has a great deal of scope to do a great deal of good, in every corner of the world. Nurses should be prominent in the cyber community – because that is where people are increasingly hanging out – we nurses should go to the people with messages of health and well-being – it is the very heart of what we do! Never too old – if you don’t have a profile somewhere get one!

Please feel free to add any extra comment

Nurses who have been in the discipline for many years are sometimes reluctant to engage with social media. They are sometimes daunted by the unstoppable force of the internet. There has been a lot of bad press about the bad things that happen in cyberspace – (eg bullying, trolls etc). But, setting up a professional digital profile is much safer. What it takes is using common sense – behave in the cyber world professionally, and you will attract professional networks and conversations. Don’t engage with people who behave badly and with trolls and they won’t bother you. Other professionals will engage with you based on how relevant your posts are to them – play nice! If you don’t – no one will play with you. Be mindful of your code of conduct and stay within the flags!

I hope those responses to Dallas’ questions are of interest to others too! Good questions – thanks for asking! Cheers!

Social media and health care – endless new possibilities to promote health :)

Twitter… facebook…blogs… so much potential for good!

I do get excited about finding new ways to promote health and well-being to people using social media! I am working on a couple of e-health projects at the moment that I hope will make meaningful contributions to rural people in particular! 

I was excited to read the latest edition of the Collegian journal online yesterday which is a special issue all about health, nurses and social media. Heaps of reading excitement – some of it free! Here is the link:


Look out for the Wilson papers – I have a couple of them in this issue! 

Happy tweeting… blogging… and updating! 


Open access journal papers about health & social media

Thanks for the Collegian, a nursing journal, who are taking the lead with a discussion about social media and health with open access on recent journal papers by my colleagues and I – here they are for your easy click and free download:

Nurses and Twitter


Australian health profession students use of social media

Let us know what you think! 

Social media in the health professions – & why we should use it more & better!

The time has come – health professionals should embrace social media and use it to promote health, well-being and recovery to the multitudes! 

There are a great many opportunities to enhance the health of people and communities which can gain a foothold in the social media environment. And – I think nurses in particular should be a the forefront, leading the charge to a healthier future… I think that so much, I gathered up several other colleagues over the last year, and together we reviewed the literature to figure out just how this could be achieved…. and now we have published our first paper on the topic….. Here is the link:

Wilson, R. L., Ranse, J., Cashin, A., & McNamara, P. (2013). Nurses and Twitter. The good, the bad and the reluctant. Collegian, in press, xxx-xxx. doi: 10.1016/j.colegn.2013.09.003

You can read the abstract at the above link, and the journal article itself is available through health and academic library subscriptions….. 

Here are a few facts from our paper:

  • Global expansion in internet and smart phone availability has led to rapid expansion of social media

  • 2.7 billion subscribers (39% of world population) to the internet with 77% of these coming from developed countries

  • 750 million of households globally are now connected to the internet which represents approximately 41% of households across the globe

  •  75% of the developed world population now have a  smart phone

  • Facebook has 11.5 million Australian users and half of them check facebook at least daily

  • LinkedIn has 2.7 million users

  • youtube has 11 million Australian users

  • Skype is used by about 280 million users around the world with and average of 7 minutes use per user per day.

  • Australia has 12.2 million internet service provider subscriptions -1/2 are wireless and 3/4 are households.

  • There are 17.4 million smart phone subscription in Australia – and rapidly rising.
  • Four out o five professionals use some form of social media.
  • Young people have a high uptake, and proficiency, of social media.
  • Increasingly health care will need to communicate and offer services and health promotion utilizing social media, because that is fast becoming the standard mechanism for convenient communication with people. 
  • Social media represents the beginnings of a new era of communication and offers a platform from which health interventions and health communication can develop in the future 
  • There are new potentials for e-health practice 


…and if the isn’t convincing enough – this is what nurses have been up to using Twitter at conferences:

At the Congress of Nurses Conference in Melbourne, Australia May 2013. Delegates and non-delegates participated in a dynamic, unplanned and spontaneous Twitter conversation prior to, during, and after the live face-to-face conference of about 4000 delegates. A total of 221 individual tweeters engaged in a lively conversation about nursing issues during 19 May – 25 May 2013, using #ICNAust2013 (www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/ICNAust2013/analytics). Conference organizers did not organise or encourage the Twitter conversation, however it developed without any organized effort with tweeters self-initiating and participating in conversations. ……. Most of the posts consisted of an exchange of ideas about paper presentations. Other conversations developed where colleagues arranged to meet face to face using Twitter as a communication tool. A total of 3000 tweets using #ICNAust2013 occurred during this period, half of the tweets and mentions amongst the top ten influencers identified in their usernames a connection with one university in Australia (www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/ICNAust2013/analytics). …. The top ten influencers (made up of nine nurses and one health journalist) for the #ICNAust2103 were users with larger cohorts of followers and these users developed a cumulative impression footprint which numbered 1 million connections, while the total cumulative impression for #ICNAust2013 was 1.4 million. Thus the conversation of the wider conference of just 4000 face to face delegates had a wider SoMe impression that extended to 1.4 million Twitter users (www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/ICNAust2013/analytics). The actual impact and the impression footprint are quite different; however the potential for influence should be noted.


And more recently… at the 39th International Conference of Australian Mental Health Nurses in Perth, October 2013, Nurses were again out in force on Twitter! About 400 face to face delegates were present but there were over 140 individual Tweeters producing in excess of 1000 tweets and with a digital impression of about 600,00 using #ACMHN2013

There is much good that can come out of nurses and other health professionals embracing social media, developing proficient skills in using social media, and becoming advocates for fair, equitable and healthy changes for people and communities. 

Challenge – Let’s see how much good we can achieve!


What ideas do you have to contribute to get the ball rolling…..? 


Social media & rural mental health

The latest in my Bush Remedies ABC radio (ABC New England North West NSW, Australia)   series about Rural Mental Health goes to air tomorrow morning on the Morning Show with presenter Kelly Fuller (about 0930 live on air) but- you can hear the podcast here sometime tomorrow afternoon…and listen at your leisure.

This time we are talking about how social media can support rural mental health, and in the spirit of rural innovation and  modern social media, I thought I  would integrate it all throughout a number of social media platforms to demonstrate how useful social media can be in the future as we work towards using e-mental health strategies more to positively promote mental health and well-being and encourage recovery… Below are some of the topics discussed in the radio podcast link above… As I hit the ‘publish’ button for this blog – it will also feed into my facebook page Rural Mental Health Nurse and to my Twitter feed – @RhondaWilsonMHN and also to my Linkedin social media newsfeed…. and travel well beyond my immediate small scope of ‘friends and followers’ towards a wider and unknown audience.  In doing this  – I am practicing what I preach…that is being a rural mental health nurse dedicated to promoting mental health well-being and recovery and building a community conversation about rural mental health…. hopefully my little bit contributes usefully to rural communities and rural people 🙂

I also encourage rural people to give social media a go and see if it is useful… it does reduce the travel miles when it comes to finding help, and there are some very good mental health resources on line.

So – here it is:

The iPhone has a lot to answer for – it has changed our world! And for the better when it comes to promoting mental health. Even it’s predecessors of regular old mobile phones have the capacity to do more for the health of the world than anything else ever has before! Bold claim… perhaps – but mobile phones and smart phones have the capacity to put a life saving mental health intervention in the pockets of most people in the world….The potential to save more lives than penicillin.

Mental health distress can be fatal – it is called suicide…. it is preventable. The burden of mental-ill health is fast looming as the next biggest cause of world-wide health burden. By 2020 health researchers predict depression will be the biggest health problem in the world. Depression is a risk factor for suicide. Suicide rates are higher in rural communities.

Mobile phones and smart phones may hold some hope in helping to reduce the impacts of mental-ill health & depression.

Why? How? Because they have the capacity to link people with other people to communicate anywhere, anytime – at the moment and instance of greatest risk, vulnerability and need. There is a hint of protection in that – and that level of protection can be worked in to safety plans for individuals….

Mental health services and clinicians can talk directly to clients; can set up scheduled messages or texts to promote mental health to vulnerable people. People can access facebook, twitter and other apps, and websites to enhance their mental health and even participate in therapy (eg Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) using app downloads. The convenience and privacy of social media and mobile phone mental health promotion is extremely appealing to many people, and it is located a time and place that suit the individual person. So much good is at hand!

What it isn’t.… social media and mobile/ smart phones are not a substitute for face to face mental health clinical help and services – but they are (increasingly) an adjunct to it.

Twitter, facebook and texting are fast becoming the ONLY way to communicate…. so it is important that mental health professionals keep up with the favoured communication pathways for people (and especially young people) and learn how to use social media to clinical effect – the world is changing! Our clients will expect us to change with it!

Twitter and Facebook are popular social media platforms – both have a great deal of positive mental health traffic – which rural people can tap into to build strength, resilience and protection in regard to being mentally healthy and encouraging others to do the same.

Social media and mental health

Nurses are already active in Twitter as mental health advocates for community mental health promotion, and as mental health communicators in both public and nursing conversations in the twitter environment. eg @jamieranse @meta4RN @ACMHN @Patbradley @hollynortham @thenursepath the list could go on and on… you can see many nurses who follow me – or I follow on my Twitter feed if you want to follow some! I am not promoting any particular nurse really – just the nursing conversation that is out there and happening in the public arena for anyone else to see and follow… (Obviously I follow a lot of nurses and vice verse  – because I am pretty passionate about nursing generally – so my feeds are full of nursing talk!) The point is that nurses are some of the leaders in advocating for health and well-being across the social media platforms, and leading the way in many cases, a shift in health conversation and advocacy is in swing.

The use of mobile phones with the ability to connect to the internet (smart phones) is expanding rapidly – 75% of the developed world population has a smart phone.

We now use the internet across an increasing range of mobile devices including smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers  we have the internet in own pockets, handbags, wherever we go…. On our lounge chairs when we watch TV, and on our bedside tables at night. Many people are never far away from the internet…. There are some down sides of this, but like all things it is a case of getting the balance right in life. There is a lot of good being spread in cyberspace as well – and especially in regard to promoting mental health.

In Australia there are about 12.2 million internet service provider subscriptions and half of those are wireless, while three quarters are household subscriptions (Australian Bureau of Statistics., 2013).

In Australia,  there are 17.4 million smart phone subscriptions & a continuing rapid upward rise in this trend (Australian Bureau of Statistics., 2013). A specific shift in digital communication occurred around 2004 with the development of web 2.0, and a further shift towards social media utilisation with the advent of mobile web technology (such as the iPhone) in 2007!

Applications (apps) are readily available for all of these devices.

In Australia, Facebook is used for social networking with 11.5 million Australian users.

Half of Facebook users log on at least daily.

The flexibility of social media participation is entirely at the convenience and control of the user.

Four out of five professionals now use some form of social media and further adoption of this communication style is inevitable.

Social media represents the beginnings of a new era of communication and offers a platform from which health interventions and health communication can develop in the future

There are new potentials for e-health practice which have already commenced and will further develop in the future.

For example, the Suicide Call Back Service (@SuicideCallBack) is a free counseling service for people thinking about suicide or bereaved by suicide.


Many mental health organizations for people what mental health problems, people who care about someone else’s mental health, and have a facebook presence. I counted up how many I like ( I may be a biased example!!) = 23 +…..  But once they are ‘liked’ you receive plenty of positive mental health updates in a newsfeed – every day. Sometimes I share them with my friends or various other facebook groups that I am part of…. It all builds the mental health conversation….. I would encourage everyone using facebook to ‘like’ at least one mental health promotion page…..

Here is some of my ‘like’ list:

·       Walking feat – Sarah Mcfarlane-Eagle – advocate mental health awareness local champion. www.facebook.com/WalkingFeat

·       Mental health council of Australia www.facebook.com/TheMHCA

·       Suicide prevention Australia www.facebook.com/SuicidePreventionAustralia

·       Mental Health Association NSW www.facebook.com/mentalhealthnsw

·       RUOK day www.facebook.com/ruokday

·       Children of Parents with Mental Illness www.facebook.com/COPMIorg

·       Reachout.com Australia www.facebook.com/ReachOutAUS

·       Mental Health Awareness Australia www.facebook.com/pages/Mental-Health-Awareness-Australia

·       Single Mothers Who Have Children with Autism www.facebook.com/singlemotherswhohavechildrenwithautism

·       Lifeline www.facebook.com/LifelineAustralia

·       Anxiety on line www.facebook.com/AnxietyOnline

·       Suicide call back service www.facebook.com/suicidecallbackservice (The Twitter presence of this service provides a convenient access to counseling and health promotion commencing in the social media environment as well).

·       Carly Fleischmann www.facebook.com/carlysvoice

·       Headspace www.facebook.com/headspaceAustralia

·       E-hub self-help for mental health and well-being www.facebook.com/ehub.selfhelp

·       Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW www.facebook.com/SFNSW

·       Rural Mental Health Australia www.facebook.com/RuralMH

And some more mental health professional pages that I ‘like’:

·       International Journal of Mental Health Nursing www.facebook.com/pages/International-Journal-of-Mental-Health-Nursing

·       Australian College of Mental Health Nurses www.facebook.com/AustCollMHNs

·       National Drugs Sector Information Service www.facebook.com/NDSIS

·       AFFIRM Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research www.facebook.com/pages/AFFIRM-The-Australian-Foundation-for-Mental-Health-Research

·       Mental health foundation of Ghana www.facebook.com/MentalHealthFoundationGhana

·       World Federation for Mental Health www.facebook.com/WFMH1

There is a robust facebook mental health promotion conversation to tap into where ever you live (as long as you have internet!)

Social media is here now; it will continue to evolve – need to make good use of this iteration of social media to positively influence the health and well-being of individuals and communities.

The general nature of social media has expanded to include professional conversations and while social media has a number of limitations, it also represents extraordinary capacity to do some good, especially in regard to the development of timely clinical conversations and the development of professional networks.


By using these #mentalhealth #rural –you will find  there is a frequent stream of information – positive mental health conversations, links to information about specific issues, and some of the tweeters are mental health professionals.

Twitter is convenient because you can follow anyone you want to…. and the conversations are brief (just 140 characters) so you don’t get overwhelmed by long wordy blogs…. (like this!) Messages are straight to the point – nice and time efficient!. Tweeters tend to link to further information that is of interest – so if the tweet sparks your interest you can follow-up and go on to view any links.

Navigate Twitter by following people or organisations with a @ symbol, and by following # themes. Both ways will help you to build a community of interest about topics. I use #RuralMH #Rural #Mentalhealth #nurses #youngpeople #youth mostly in my tweets – because I Tweet mostly about those topics! I will be tweeting next week from the International National Conference for Australian College of Mental Health Nurses using #ACMHN2013 – you may want to follow on the hashtag and see what are the latest developments in mental health nursing…..!

Some Twitter mental health handles to follow:







E-self-help mental health

There have been significant developments in e-mental health, and especially with self-help e-mental health interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy, many of which have been developed in Australia. Beacon at the Australian National University (ANU) host a controlled data base which contains about 62 web-based and 11 mobile applications for mental health and physical health self-help interventions listed on an open access website which addressed mood and anxiety disorders.

Most are designed for adults and were based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles. One third of the interventions have been evaluated by at least one randomised control trial, which shows some promise for the developing body of evidence emerging around the use of e-mental health in the future, however more research needs to be done in the future to understand the effectiveness and implications for e-mental health delivery to rural young people

Here are some examples of places to start to search for quality and reliable (evidence-based)  mental health help and self-help therapy.




e-mental health will be here for the long haul…. It has the capacity to do a great deal of good. But it is not a substitute for local face to face mental health services or emergency service when they are needed. E-mental health is a companion to quality local mental health services, and in combination, there is promise for the mental health of rural communities.