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In Good Company

Twitter chat shows need to combat mental health stigma

Jun 11 2015

An hour-long live Twitter chat in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month sparked a conversation about why eliminating the stigma of mental health is such an important public health goal.

The chat, held May 28, was a collaboration between Aetna, Stamp Out Stigma, Give An Hour, National Council, Active Minds, Mental Health First Aid and Change Direction, organizations keenly interested in exploring ways we can all work together to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and health care in America.

These types of conversations — especially when held in public formats, like Twitter — can go a long way in helping to shift people’s perception of what it means to have a mental illness.

The chat itself was led by host, Stamp Out Stigma, with six key questions addressing aspects of mental health or its stigma. Twitter users could then respond to those questions with their own thoughts, comments or insights.

As the chat progressed, participants used the questions as a jumping off point to talk about the impact of mental health problems, the personal effects of the disease on them and their loved ones, and ideas for how they could keep the conversation going about how to erase the stigma faced by those who live with mental health problems. The conversation resonated with a wide audience and included over 400 participants who sent 1,900 tweets. You can view tweets from the chat by searching the hashtag #MHMchat or viewing a transcript here.

“The success and engagement in this chat event highlights the significant need for individuals to talk about experiences with mental health issues, and to seek the solutions and support that are so critically important to ‘changing the conversation‘ around mental health,” said Louise Murphy, head of Aetna Behavioral Health.

Find additional coverage of mental health issues on The Health Section, Aetna’s YouTube channel, and Twitter handle.