#Mentalhealth: Promoting Public Mental Health outside the Classroom through Student-created Social-media Messages
C.Y. Nelson Yeung
Using social media to raise public awareness about mental health issues becomes increasingly important. To provide hands-on experience in this aspect, two cohorts of students enrolled in the class CHPR4012 (N= 48) were asked to create three short mental health-related promotional messages (including a 1-minute video) and post/share them through social media (including Facebook, Instagram) publicly for two weeks. They also applied the theories, empirical evidence, and health communication techniques learned from the class to create the messages.
For easier identifications of students' messages in the social media platforms, they were also asked to hashtag the course code and other relevant phrases in their messages. After two weeks, students elaborated their rationales behind the messages, the skills they used in creating the messages, the feedback they received from people on social media, and reflected on their project experience in the group presentation.
Students felt rewarded when their efforts/ideas were recognized by people (even strangers) on the social media. Learning was also enriched as students could choose a topic that was not fully discussed in the lectures (e.g., specific mental health problems, challenges of a specific at-risk population). Excellent feedbacks were received from the students, with a significant increment in course evaluation in the second year running the course.
Adding social media-based learning experience not only increases students' sensitivities over what they should take note of when designing mental health promotional messages for the public, but also provides them opportunities to reflect on strategies to promote health using more cost-effective means.