Tag Archives: blogging

A Blog About A Blog About Suicide

I’m going to keep this short.

On the eve of the second anniversary of the meta4RN.com blog we (guest writer Stevie Jacobs and I) have finally released her powerful, gutsy post “These words have been in my head and they needed to come out (a blog post about suicide).” I thought by opening up meta4RN.com to occasional guest posts I would save myself some time and effort. Ha! Stevie’s post has had the longest, most difficult gestation of all of the posts on this blog.

Why? It’s not because of Stevie’s writing – she writes very well – It’s because of the content.

It’s because we don’t know how to talk about suicide.

mindframe I remember as a 14  year old learning about suicidal ideation via the famous Hamlet soliloquy which starts: “To be, or not to be, that is the question…” Shakespeare didn’t seem to be as afraid as getting the tone/message wrong as Stevie Jacobs and I have been.

Luckily, we don’t have to navigate this tricky territory without a map. Mindframe – Australia’s national media initiative – have some very handy tips aimed (mostly) at media. They also have info for universities, the performing arts, police and courts. It would be silly to replicate all their information here – cut out the middle-man and visit the Mindframe website:
www.mindframe-media.info

The only thing I want to make sure is included here is that we, the health professionals, remain mindful of responsible use of language in social media, including blogs (and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) . Melissa Sweet of croakey (the Crikey health blog) has used the term “citizen journalist” to refer to us non-journos who are active on social media. I have shied-away from that label because I have zero knowledge/pretensions of being a journalist. However, when it comes to talking about mental health and/or suicide, I reckon that those of using social media as health professionals should take some ownership of the “citizen journalist” tag.

Health professionals are used to being informed by evidence-based guidelines, right? That’s what the Mindframe guidelines are. They are guidelines for how language should be used by journalists. Those of us who are blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking/whatever can, if we choose to be safe and ethical, abide by the same code of good practice (here).

Let’s watch our language.

Let’s edit and re-edit.

Let’s reflect and think about our impact. Let’s do that slowly.

Let’s be safe. ethical and kind.

Let’s do no harm.

Let’s follow the Mindframe guidelines when we’re blogging about mental health and/or suicide.

End.

That’s it. Thanks for visiting.

If you haven’t done so already, visit Stevie Jacob’s guest post here: meta4RN.com/guest02 My favourite part is the middle part (the meat in the sandwich?) which is honest, powerful, raw and gutsy. I hope/think that the edits made have been in keeping with the Mindframe guidelines. If  not, that is my responsibility. Please let me know and I will fix it as soon as possible.

Paul McNamara, 23rd September 2014

Short URL: meta4RN.com/mindframe

Luddites I Have Known

In the never-ending quest to enthuse midwives and nurses about professional use of social media I’ve talked to people about it, given inservice education sessions, demonstrated is use as an adjunct to education, facilitated workshops, submitted conference posters, contributed to journal articles and have been invited to speak at conferences. To spread the word I’ve taken the risk of being called geek wanker narcissist, and even had cards printed:

BusinessCard4

When I talk to people about health care social media, I always mention how it lets information be shared quickly and easily,  and network with people from a range of professions/walks-of-life from all around the world. However, the thing I value the most and try to emphasise the most, is the participative, interactive nature of social media. Social media is where the debates are held; those of us who want to influence and participate in decisions gather and test our ideas on social media. Twitter is especially good for this: it lets anyone join in and contribute to- and be enlightened by- the contest of ideas.

To see how Twitter works to share information and the contest of ideas, see these two recent examples (click on the pics to see the complete conversations unfurl):

In health and education roles I encounter many people who give dumb blanket statements like, “I will never use Twitter – I don’t care what Justin Bieber had for breakfast”. Much to my embarrassment, this is the sort of thing I hear nurses (especially those in positions of influence and power) say all the time. These people are so stubborn that they won’t even look, listen or learn about professional use of social media.

A few months ago two Australian nurse lecturers forthrightly and very confidently told me that Twitter and facts are (somehow) mutually exclusive, and they do not and never will use it. I tried being zen about the whole thing (water flows around resistance, rocks in the stream shift or erode), and celebrated some of the nurse academics who are more enlightned about health care social media (see storify.com/meta4RN/lecturers).

However, the same thing keeps happening: people in positions of power and influence in the health care and higher education systems are still using silly, uninformed, blanket statements to decry the use of social media and warn people off from using it.

No more Mr Nice Guy – I’m calling these people what they are: Luddites.

People being resistive to new technologies and innovations is not new, and in my lifetime I have seen that change is inevitable – the luddites and laggards will catch-up eventually.

In the 1970s I knew people who refused to play video-games like Space Invaders – “No it’s too confusing, I’m sticking with the pinball machine” said my friend when we went into the pinball parlour.

In the 1980s I knew people who refused to use ATMs (automatic teller machines) – “No, you can’t trust a little card and machine. I’ll wait until the bank opens on Monday.” said my relative.

In the 1990s I knew people who refused to use computers. Every now and then I still hear people say, “I don’t believe in computers” as if computers are akin to the tooth fairy or religion.

In the 2000s I knew people who refused to use a mobile phone, “Why would I ever need one?”, people would say. Now, in Australia, there are more mobile phones than people (for more info: meta4RN.com/mobile).

In the 2010s I know people who refuse to use social media. As evidenced by the “I don’t need to know what Justin Bieber had for breakfast” type of statements, the reason they don’t use it is twofold: [1] they do not understand it, and [2] they decline the opportunities to learn.

I guess I should be patient with my resistive colleagues – history shows that they’ll come around eventually. However, for those nurses and midwives in positions of power and influence, I’m hoping people will print and fax you a copy of this picture below. If  you can’t summon the willingness to learn about professional health care social media, please summon the dignity and sense to stop critiquing something you do not understand.

luddites

PDF version (suitable to print and fax to a social media denier of your choosing): Luddites

As always, your comments/feedback is welcome.

Paul McNamara, 3rd May 2014

 

 

 

Professional use of Twitter and Healthcare Social Media #NPD100

SmartCare-Poster

About the Conference

Peter Carr is an innovative Nurse Lecturer who coordinates the subject NPD100 Health Communications, Research and Informatics for undergraduate nurses at The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Peter, with support from his colleagues and students, has organised the SMART CARE Conference (SMART = Social Media Application for Research and Teaching) hosted by the University of Notre Dame, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Fremantle campus on Friday 25th of October, 2013. More about the conference here: #NPD100 The Conference

The tagline on the poster “#NPD100 The Conference” refers to the neat trick of using the subject code as the hashtag. Such a good idea. Some universities and workplaces still have a stop it or you’ll go blind! kind of attitude towards social media, so it’s very refreshing to see a university subject that so strongly encourages students to utilise social media professionally, to be digital citizens.

It is a terrific honour to be asked to contribute at this conference – I’m very grateful to Peter for asking me along. Together with Kane Guthrie and Marie Ennis O’Connor, we will have time to explore some of the uses of health care social media. To assist the flow of ideas to continue beyond one Friday in Freo, a copy of my #NPD100 SMART CARE Conference presentation is included below.

Professional use of Twitter and Healthcare Social Media

Two Notes in Closing

  1. Regular visitors to meta4RN will recognise the presentation above as having a lot in common with this recent post: meta4RN.com/poster. Yes folks: self-plagarism is alive and well. However, in my defence, the #NPD100 presentation will be able to explore some of these ideas in a lot more detail than the poster version.
  2. Ironically, I’m about to go pretty quiet on social media for a couple of weeks. After spending all week in Perth and Fremantle talking about and using social media, I’m going on holiday in country Western Australia with my lovely partner. On one of the slides above I present balance as being one of the risks of using social media. To manage that risk, there are times when ignoring social media and simply enjoying time with the people you love is the sensible, balanced thing to do. Digital citizens need to be analogue citizens too. :-)

See you in a couple of weeks!

Paul McNamara, 25th October 2013

Hits and Misses: The First Twelve Months of meta4RN

Today I will blog about my blog. I feel quite uncomfortable about it, and am very afraid that I will completely disappear up my own bum.

On 24th September 2012 meta4RN.com was launched with two posts. One said “Hello World!“, the other post “About” set the agenda and explained the rationale for the blog. Now, exactly 12 months later, let’s see what’s happened.

hits

Hits

country1Serendipitously, the 11,000th hit on meta4RN.com happened on the day of its first birthday. Actually, it wasn’t coincidence at all – it was more the desperate attention-seeking of somebody sad enough to write a blog about his blog. I could see that the milestone was getting close and started promoting pimping various pages of meta4RN.com on Twitter from about 5:00am.

Early-waking insomnia has me conveniently awake in prime-time evening social media time for Europeans. Many of the social media connections I have made are in the UK – one of them, Anne Cooper also starting blogging in 2012. Although Annie started blogging just a couple of months before me, she taught me a valuable lesson on Twitter: Pimp Your Blog! (see Tip 7 here: anniecoops.com). Annie acknowledges Wendy Lee (aka @TheRealBaglady)  as the source for this idea. I think we should also give credit to those who wrote the bible and the people who translated it into English… the biblical proverb, “don’t hide your light under a bushel” is very similar in meaning to the proverb, “pimp your blog!”

country2Twitter accounts for nearly a quarter of all hits on meta4RN.com. To the best of my ability I’ve tried to mimic the Twitter style of @mamamia – they take the “pimp your blog” idea to the next level with around-the-clock, mostly-not-repetitive, nearly-always-poignant-funny-and/or-interesting Tweets promoting mamamia.com.au content. When I’m pimping my blog I use scheduled tweets and a bit of imagination to try to channel the mamamia style of Twitter wit and wisdom.

With Twitter well in the lead, here is the Top 10 of referral sources to meta4RN.com:

  1. Twitter
  2. Search Engines
  3. Facebook
  4. Nurse Uncut
  5. Google+
  6. Philip Darbyshire
  7. PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Awareness Association)
  8. impactednurse (by the inspiring Ian Miller)
  9. Outlook.com
  10. Croakey (the Crikey health blog, by the very supportive Melissa Sweet)

The blog has attracted over 100 comments, and I am very grateful for the support of all those who have referred/linked to the meta4RN site. Overall there are about 90 websites and oodles of Digital Citizens that have directed traffic in this direction – my sincere thanks to you all.

There have been meta4RN.com views from 85 countries, however many of these countries have visited less than a handful of times.

Searching for Meaning

WordPress (the platform used for meta4RN.com) gives access to some of the search engine data. Predictably, Google was the search engine used for 95% of the  queries that found meta4RN.com pages. The most common search terms related to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) – scanning through the very long list of search terms that led people to meta4RN.com it looks like nearly a third of all searchers wanted info about the EPDS. This is reflected in the stats for pages with the most hits too: setting aside the “generic” Home, Archive and About pages, the Top 10 of page views goes like this:

  1. Using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (November 2012)
  2. Emotional Aftershocks (August 2013, re hospital violence)
  3. #ICNAust2013: Looking Back at a Nursing Conference through a Social Media Lens (May 2013)
  4. Perinatal Jargon Busting (April 2013 – interestingly, this had the most hits in a day – 22/07/13, the day Prince George was born – when this quote from the post was shared on social media: “Babies are born. Women give birth. Pizzas are delivered.”)
  5. Nurturing the Nurturers (January 2013)
  6. Social Media for Nurses: my ten step, slightly-ranty, version (january 2013)
  7. #acmhn2012: Looking Back at a Mental Health Nursing Conference through a Social Media Lens (October 2012)
  8. Precovery: a proactive version of recovery (March 2013 – subsequently this post was adapted for publication as per this citation: McNamara, Paul and McCauley, Kay. (2013).‘Precovery’: A proactive version of recovery in perinatal mental health. Australian Nursing Journal: , Vol. 21, No. 1, Jul 2013: 38.)
  9. Follow Friday and other Twitterisms (July 2013)
  10. #bePNDaware: Looking Back at Postnatal Depression Awareness Week through a Social Media Lens (November 2013)

Misses

In this section, let’s have a look at things that have not gone so well.

Quantity: The original idea was for a post a week – that has not been achieved. There have been 33 posts in the first 12 months (this one will be the 34th). I’m planning to change the original goal to at least two posts per month – that’s more realistic for me: somebody with a fulltime job, a social life, and a bad habit of being verbose and over-inclusive when writing blog posts. Like now, for instance.

Quality: I can’t believe how awful I am at proof-reading my own work. Every time I publish a post I have to go back and edit out the typos and nonsensical sentences that are included. Weirdly, I seem to be much better at noticing the mistakes after they’ve been out out in the public domain… it’s as if I’m an Apple iO7 designer or something. [look Mum - contemporary humour!]

countrymapReach: as per the map above, meta4RN.com has totally failed to capture the all-important Chinese market. 我要加倍努力接触到中国的护士。Not doing at all well in cracking Greenland either. Damn.

Dud Posts: Less than 50 visits have been made to these three posts – a poor reward for effort, but also an indication that sometimes I waffle-on about stuff that not many people care about.

  1. What has social media been saying about clinical supervision this week? (January 2013)
  2. Should May 15th be International Mental Health Nurse Day? (May 2013)
  3. Hello World! (September 2012)

Appearance: I really dislike the random hyphenation of this blog. It is truly awful and ugly sometimes. Also, the overall look if meta4RN.com is a bit daggy. I might give it a bit of a refresh in coming weeks/months – stay tuned.

So What?

This is a meta post – like a conversation about conversations (see number 5 here: meta4rn.com/about). The purpose of this post is not to show the answers, but to show my working-out… you know, just like my Year 5 maths teacher always said, “Getting the right answer can be dumb luck – I want to see how you arrived at the answer! Show how you worked it out!” Hopefully somebody can pick-up some ideas from seeing the working-out of a nurse who blogs.

I didn’t know what “blog” meant until about 12 months ago (slow, i know). It is word play from the original “Web Log”, which was contracted to “WebLog”, which was playfully converted to “We Blog”, which then left the thing that “we” do as a “blog”. Cute.

I am pleased to have an avenue of conversation about professional matters that is not constrained by the traditions and discipline of academic journals. I think the language we can use on blogs is much more accessible, and the freedom of sharing ideas for consideration is liberating. Practice-based-evidence instead of evidence-based-practice. It’s still peer reviewed, but is not hidden behind a paywall. Professional blogs are not in competition with journals, and will never attain their level of academic credibility. However, hopefully these sort of blogs can go some way towards bridging that long-lamented theory-practice gap. I hope so.

Hat Tips

When introducing meta4RN.com this time last year, I acknowledged Ian Miller of impactednurse.com and all those who participate in Health Care and Social Media in Australia and New Zealand (#hcsmanz on Twitter). I want to reinforce my thanks for their support and inspiration now. Ian is especially impressive in leading the way for digital citizen health professionals.

There have been dozens of other who have been very supportive of meta4RN.com over the last twelve months. I will not attempt to list them all, but will just single-out two:

Melissa Sweet of @croakeyblog on Twitter and croakey online plays a significant role in sharing health-related information in the social media environment. I have been especially grateful for Melissa’s feedback and support for some of the meta4RN.com blog posts. Very rewarding and gratefully received.

My partner Stella is incredibly tolerant of the time I have spent on something that does nothing to pay our mortgage or enhance our social life together. I am especially grateful to Stella for affording me the luxury of experimenting in this space: thank you darling.

End

Thanks very much for reading meta4RN.com – as always, your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 24th September 2013

Questions of Compassion

This morning we woke to the sad news that a British Nurse inadvertently involved in an Australian radio station prank has, apparently, taken her life. Suicide has loomed large in my work over the years. I have lost colleagues and clients to suicide, and have had the privilege of being on-hand for those who have attempted to take their life but survived; they have been some of the most important, profound hours of my working life. I’ve also had the poignant privilege of being on hand to support those who are mourning the person that has taken their own life – sometimes this has been in the immediate aftermath, more often in the weeks, months and years that follow. The death of a loved one is always sad, but sadder still when those left can make no sense of the why questions:

  • why didn’t s/he ask me for help?
  • why didn’t I notice something?
  • why did s/he do this?
  • why can’t I stop crying?

Perhaps the outpouring of anger on social media over the last few hours has been another expression of the why questions. Although the tweets and facebook posts have used different, more emotive, words the underlying messages seem to be something along the lines of these why questions:

  • why would this happen?
  • why can’t we stop it from happening?
  • why is suicide so frighteningly inexplicable?
  • why can’t we blame something/somebody?

These why questions will mostly go unanswered, of course. The only one we can reasonably hope to address is the last one: why can’t we blame something/somebody? The answer is that suicide is a complex matter; it is not likely to be caused by a single event or single interaction. Thoughts of self harm are most likely to occur when significant, long-term stress, depression, anxiety or other mental health problems are present.

Which brings me to the three points of this post:

One. Jacintha’s death is a poignant reminder that in times of distress there are always people we can reach-out to:

Aussies via Lifeline ph 13 11 14 or www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

Brits via Samaritans ph 08457 90 90 90 or www.samaritans.org

For people in other countries, the world’s most popular search engine (Google) displays a picture of a red telephone and the helpline phone number if searching for a suicide-related topic.

Two. A few days ago in the UK, the Director of Nursing at the Department of Health and Chief Nursing Officer for England released a three year vision and strategy for nursing, midwifery and care staff called Compassion in Practice. In this document compassion is defined as how care is given through relationships based on empathy, respect and dignity – it can also be described as intelligent kindness, and is central to how people perceive their care (page 13).

In this sad time while we include Jacintha’s family, friends and workmates in our compassionate thoughts, let’s also share and encourage compassion for the radio DJs and their family, friends and workmates.

Suicide is too complex for blame. Nurses are too compassionate to blame.

Three. Only one Australian state (Victoria) has access to the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program – an independent support service specifically for nurses and midwives experiencing a mental health issue or substance use issue.

Shouldn’t this scheme be opened-up to all Australian Nurses and Midwives? Let’s nurture those who nurture.

In Closing

In the late 1990s I partnered with a Mindframe representative to speak with Cairns journalists about safe, sensitive reporting of mental health issues and suicide. While having no pretence of having a journalist’s qualifications or expertise, there’s no reason why those of us who blog shouldn’t be informed by the Mindframe guidelines to assist us to frame our posts in a sensitive, helpful way. Part of doing so is to acknowledge that talking and thinking about suicide can be distressing, and to ensure that readers are aware of supports:

In Australia

Lifeline – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
For young people 5-25 years: Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
For men: MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
MindHealthConnect www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

In the United Kingdom

Samaritans ph 08457 90 90 90 or www.samaritans.org

For people in other countries, the world’s most popular search engine (Google) displays a picture of a red telephone and the helpline phone number if searching for a suicide-related topic.

Paul McNamara, 8th December 2012