by Dr. Sudhakar Sivapalan – ECP
Former CPA-MIT, Social Media Resident Liaison
Social media is about connectivity between an individual and the world around them. It continues to have a growing impact on mental health, on the practice of psychiatry, and even on the practice of medicine in general. In medical schools and training programs, this topic is covered under the broader area of professionalism and etiquette, and is sometimes referred to a digital literacy. The vast majority of the current literature (studies, policy documents, etc.) focus on protecting physicians – they are often filled with warnings and lists of “DO NOT’s”. They warn of the negative impact that engaging on social media can have on one’s career, and that one must always be on guard both in their professional and personal personas.
However, there is a growing role for positive use. At the recent CPA Annual Meeting in Toronto, there was strong presence on Twitter and Facebook – with up to date information, opinions, and photos being communicated to and by attendees. At various conferences, there are regular presentations on the use of social media and technology as part of a psychiatric practice.
Medical schools are using social media to deliver announcements to their students and staff. A quick glance online reveals that most, if not all medical schools in Canada appear to have a Twitter feed and Facebook page, and some go as far as to have regular blogs. Grand rounds presentation are often “podcasted” – providing another way to share knowledge.
Health organizations are using social media as a way of connecting with today’s tech savvy and constantly connected individuals. This has begun to show up in the way mental health crisis services are reaching out to those at risk. In Alberta, one can subscribe to a texting service that regularly delivers positive messages to promote good mental health. Campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association regularly rely on social media tools to address mental health stigma.
Social media has changed how we communicate with the rest of the world. The amount of information available is astounding, and one does not often have the time to analyze it before we are called on to make a response. Social media has also made the world a smaller community, allowing points of access that never existed before – both good and bad. The one truth is that this tool of communication is here to stay in one form or another, and it will continue to impact how we think, feel and interact with the world.
In this vein, the CPA-MIT would invite you to interact in our online community on Facebook at “https://www.facebook.com/groups/CPA.MIT/” , follow our Twitter feed at @CPA_MITSocial, or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.