South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services to the people of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, has been ranked the top mental health Trust in a national NHS Twitter league table and tenth out of all NHS organisations currently tweeting.
The NHS has harnessed the potential of social media with NHS organisations proactively using this channel to engage with their local communities and partner organisations.
The Trust has been using Twitter for the last year to encourage local people to keep up to date with the Trust and mental health news and it has gone from strength to strength. There are currently over 420 people following the Trust on the free social networking and micro-blogging service and it has proved an invaluable way of connecting with other organisations such as the national charity Dementia UK and the Mental Health Foundation.
Twitter enables its users to send and read messages and by simply answering “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less users can hear the latest news from the Trust who can strengthen existing bonds at the same time as making new ones.
With its recent explosive growth Twitter represents an exciting new communications platform which is benefitting the Trust in a number of ways including promoting events, such as wellbeing month, and tackling the stigma that surrounds mental health – linking up with international anti-stigma campaigns.
While it was easy to be sceptical in the early days of Twitter, the reality is that Twitter now has millions of users, with growth of over 1500% year-over-year. Its massive popularity has enabled the Trust to inform a wider audience and raise awareness of mental health issues both on a local and national scale.
The Trust’s Twitter profile is kept up to date with information for people who use services, their carers, staff, partner organisations and the general public, many of whom make up the Trust’s 14,000 members. Jude Tipper, communications manager, said, "Because of its popularity and ease of use Twitter is another way for the Trust to keep in touch with people and give them the latest news about their local NHS.
"It has also enabled us to share our good practice with a wider audience. For example, following one of our recent ‘tweets’ (a Twitter message) a local involvement network in Staffordshire got in touch to find out more about our developments in dementia care. We have also shared our anti-stigma campaign ideas with an international audience. So it’s allowing us to share the good work of our staff here in Yorkshire with an audience much further a field, whilst also building and maintaining our network of contacts."
Local people can follow the Trust on Twitter by searching for ‘allofusinmind’ – taken from the Trust’s strapline ‘with all of us in mind’, which local have become familiar with. Or, simply log onto the Trust’s website and follow the link from the homepage, www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk