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The state of our health isn’t deemed polite conversation by most of society. Navigating the line between getting support from friends and family when you’re going through a hard time and not being the weird uncle who always talks about their colon at Christmas dinner can take some adept balancing.

Fortunately, just as social platforms can serve as support networks for those making physical changes aimed at fitness, they can also serve as support networks for those living with health issues from the temporary (How do I work out with a broken leg?) to those living with chronic illness (How do I restructure my life with this?).

Reaching out on Twitter

Building a supportive community on Twitter is one of the things that makes the platform the most worthwhile, and it can make a huge difference when a recently diagnosed person is able to surround themselves with supportive people dealing with similar health issues a few tweets away. Reaching out can start with browsing this master list of tweet chats and joining in whichever feel most comfortable; general health chats might point to more specific ones, and it’s hard not to find someone to connect with in most tweet chats. Doctors and other medical professionals sometimes host tweet chats in order to help answer questions from the general public. Building twitter lists of who participates in which chats, or is the most helpful in pointing out resources can help sort a barrage of new information.

There are also specific accounts dedicated to any number of health issues; Invisible Illness Wk, for example, connects those living with invisible illnesses in addition to raising awareness of the issues those will invisible, chronic illnesses face to those who are unfamiliar.

On other platforms

Sometimes there’s nothing more helpful than reading about someone else’s experience dealing with what you’re currently going through. Tumblr offers the same capabilities as a blog, but socially enhanced with reblogging and private messaging options, allowing one blog to draw from and connect with another easily, building up a support network without ever leaving the site.

For particular chronic illnesses, medical professionals will often point those newly diagnosed to message boards specific to a certain condition or related conditions. Inspire.com has a range of different communities that offer support, for example.

YouTube is also a popular platform for sharing experiences and getting feedback. Popular YouTuber Hank Green has shared his experience of living with a chronic illness, and the comments show many viewers grateful to see their own experiences mirrored in his video, especially from someone well-regarded and popular.

The bottom line

Ultimately social media helps connect those whose health might keep them from being able to attend a physical support group, and to supplement and organize the information and support they might receive from other sources.

Written by Sarah

February 12th, 2014 at 9:26 am