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Social media and campaigns for social good: best practices for mental health nonprofit organizations




Hansen, Natalie Jo, author
Hallahan, Kirk, advisor
Christen, Cindy, committee member
Farrel, Dorothy, committee member

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This study sought to better understand how mental health nonprofits are using social media platforms to communicate with three audiences: their clients, support groups of their clients, and the general public. Four research questions were studied through a series of ten in-depth interviews with communications professionals at mental health nonprofits in Colorado. The study found that social media was an important component of these nonprofits' online communication strategy. Goals with social media ranged from funneling visitors to the organization's website to raising awareness about its particular focus in mental health. Many participants expressed interest in communicating with their clients and even providing some extension of their services through social media, but found requirements for privacy set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to be restrictive. Although not all organizations considered the general public to be a major target audience, most agreed that some portion of their posts provided education, awareness, and stigma-fighting components. Several organizations considered friends and family members of their clients to be their most important target audience, and focused posts on providing informational and emotional support to this group. Clients were also noted as benefitting from this informational and emotional support. Findings from the interviews were used to suggest seven best practices for social media use by mental health nonprofits.


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mental health
public communication
public relations
social media


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