Mental health promotion aided by social media?
The profession of nursing, by definition, brings nurses into contact with human suffering and loss. The loss may be as monumental as death of a family member or friend, or it may be less obvious, such as a new diagnosis of schizophrenia or heart disease or muscular schlerosis; or the birth of a child with a physical or cognitive challenge. Counselling and teaching are nursing roles in supporting those coping with loss .
Shauna, in her #eci831 blog last week, presented some ideas and posed some great questions around using social media to educate and support those dealing with various medical conditions.
Related to this application of social media is health promotion for grieving individuals, whether grieving for loss of health or function or grieving the death of a loved one. What we know about healthy grieving or griefwork is that acknowledging and facing one’s feelings and expressing them in a tangible or creative way is therapeutic and healing. I came upon this blog quite by accident, or… maybe serendipitously while stalking on facebook. AmongFriends was set up specifically for bereaved persons to share their grief journeys and support one another.
Blog-grieving allows people facing loss to tell their stories , but in a more public way than what is traditional. Being connected with others facing similar crises may allow for mutual member support, validation or “normalizing” of experiences from someone who’s been there, or is there right now. With a larger network of commiserants than would be in a geographical community, chances that someone will understand and respond in a meaningful way. There may be a sense of safety and security in anonmymity, if one chooses, if a person isn’t sure if their reactions to their loss are “normal”. I could have used this outlet when my son was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes at 5 years back in 1995, when I felt too weak and crazy to tell friends and family what was going on, and consequently experienced depression for several years as a result of lack of internal management strategies for chronic sorrow.
I now appreciate an application for social media which I’d never considered before and which intrigues me for its potential as a mental health promotion tool.
Counselling and nursing types out there, have you ever explored blogging as therapy for a grieving client? If so, did you follow up? Was the experience therapeutic? Would you consider recommending blogging or joining an online social networking group as a means of processing feelings associated with loss?