In a new spin on the proverbial couch, SDI launched a social media event in May to encourage a dialogue on mental health in the military space. In a first, client Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) virtually opened the doors to its psychologists’ offices by making them available on social media platforms all month long.
The event, #Ask DCoE, invited service members, veterans, families and health care providers to ask questions about mental health issues via the ease of Facebook, Twitter and the DCoE Blog. Through a monitored and controlled internal communications process SDI conceived, questions were quickly threaded through one of DCoE’s three centers for responses: Deployment Health Clinical Center, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and National Center for Telehealth and Technology.
SDI named the event the “Living Blog” because each question and answer lived on through the month in one continuous flow of dialogue posted to the DCoE Blog on its website.
While DCoE has long been active in social media, SDI’s creative undertaking was the first time its client’s main social platforms combined synergies in pursuit of a singular goal. Timed to promote Mental Health Awareness Month, the Living Blog embraced concerns that ranged from posttraumatic stress disorder to moral injury.
Pairing the high-speed world of social media with the deliberative analytical process of psychology may seem cautionary. In effect, the two environments made for an intriguing relationship. What made it work — subject matter experts fully engaged in the process; commitment to a 24-hour turnaround for responses; tight coordination between the SDI on-site communications team and DCoE experts and facilitators; thorough and vetted strategic planning; and DCoE’s dedicated effort to encourage service members to reach out for help.
The stigma of seeking help for mental health keeps many from getting answers to their concerns, let alone asking questions. SDI created the opportunity for the military community to raise their hands in anonymity and find answers or a pathway to understanding of their personal struggles. The event lays the foundation for leveraging DCoE digital properties in more creative ways to advantage its military stakeholders.