Dr Gillanders recently gave a presentation at the annual Division of Neuropsychology – Scotland CPD event in Glasgow. The talk focused on how neuropsychologists can use social media to engage with the general public and provide information about neuropsychological conditions and treatment in an accessible way. The presentation also discussed how social media platforms can be used as a source of information for clinicians wishing to increase their own awareness of what is happening within their profession.
At present there is a discrepancy between the number of neuropsychologists available and the number of people wishing to access their services. Not everyone can be seen on a one-to-one basis in a clinic and nor does everyone need that level of involvement. For some, being able to access good quality information at the right time is sufficient to help them make sense of their symptoms and how to manage them. This is where social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram can be very helpful.
Each social media platform differs in terms of the type and amount of information that can be shared and who engages with them. There are a small number of neuropsychologists using Twitter and LinkedIn to share information about their work and neuropsychological issues. Brain and spinal injury charities have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the British Psychological Society posts information on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In general, there is not a great deal of neuropsychological information available either for the general public or for clinicians wishing to access high quality, in depth material.
In terms of what can be done to improve the situation, it is recommended that individual clinicians and departments are supported to become familiar with the different social media platforms available, how they can contribute to the information published online and also benefit from it. Scientific meetings, conferences and presentations should be recorded and the audio or visual information obtained shared via podcasts and YouTube. Regular, high quality podcasts for professionals and the public would contribute to current information provision by offering in depth information that is not currently available in the area of neuropsychology.
In clinical practice, we should encourage people with brain and spinal injuries who use social media to follow charities that provide high quality information about neurological conditions. To date the focus has been on the risks of using social media after a brain injury but we know that people used social media before they had their injury and continue to use it after. Whilst the risks need to be considered, the therapeutic benefits of being able to access good quality information, in small, easy to understand formats is important when living with the long-term effects of brain and spinal injuries. Social media can also provide peer support and access to charitable organisations over a long period of time which can be invaluable when living with chronic symptoms.
In summary, neuropsychologists have the potential to disseminate information to a large number of people via social media platforms but at present are not doing so in a coordinated or strategic way. Supporting clinicians to engage actively with social media could have positive consequences both for those living with neuropsychological symptoms and for their own professional development.