Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NYC Health Department Gets Its Own MySpace

Here are some statistics to consider: According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 58% of kids between 12 and 17 years old have a profile on a social networking site, such as MySpace. Meanwhile, about 20% of teens have mental health and/or substance abuse problems with very few of them getting needed professional help. Faced with those numbers, it would seem to make sense that health outreach efforts to teens have a strong Internet presence.

It has always been a disappointment to me that our institutions move slower than molasses and miss opportunities to optimize their programs. But finally, one agency has taken a leap in the right direction.

The New York City Health Department now has its own MySpace, complete with a healthy roster of friends (albeit may fictional ones) at its debut this week. The Department anticipates their presence in the world of social networking will create a safe place for teens and tweens to seek help, take polls and play games. Visitors will also have the opportunity to send confidential messages to mental health counselors. Sounds great, but it's about 10 years too late.

Just as they're coming online, social networking has catapulted far beyond the promise of MySpace. Services like Twitter and the revolution in telepsychiatry continue to open up brave new frontiers. The point isn't technology for its own sake, of course; it's to help people and maybe save lives. Technology is endlessly revealing new and improved means to do just that.

So kudos and plaudits to the New York City Health Department; I wish others would be progressive as well. Now if we can just get bureaucracy to get in step with technology, we would realize a compunding of benefits.Sphere: Related Content

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