Recently, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, along with parenting author Ann Douglas and Toronto Police officer Laurie McCann, hosted a Twitter Chat.
A Twitter Chat is basically a meeting of Twitter users who come together to chat about a specific topic – in this case, the topic was children’s mental health. This is the third chat that Children’s Mental Health Ontario has held – each generating significant activity online, reaching tens of thousands of people with important messages. The last chat generated approximately nine million impressions (impressions are the number of times someone could be reached with a message). We used the hashtag #kidscantwait so that anyone following the chat could follow along by searching that hashtag. (The #kidscantwait hashtag was first decided on last year when, during our annual conference, youth from The New Mentality got up and told us that kids can’t wait for health care.)
Nine million possible impressions on children’s mental health issues is a lot – it’s enough noise on Twitter to trend, even on a hockey night in Canada when many others were tweeting about the Stanley Cup. But even more important than the impressions generated are the messages that were shared.
In the chat, we heard from parents, service providers, health care workers, educators and youth. So many people expressed their personal experiences, shared their ideas on how to make things better – this kind of sharing is critical if change is going to happen.
Here are some examples of the kinds of messages that were shared.
- When it came to sharing personal experiences, many people really opened up and shared their experience in this public space.
- We talked about the challenges in obtaining treatment for children’s mental healthcare.
- We asked what can be done to include youth more in decisions about mental healthcare.
- We shared tips on what we all can do to bring about positive change.
- Many people called on our provincial leaders to step up and help kids and families waiting for mental healthcare services.