Facebook page brings mental health treatment out of closet, into mainstream life.

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Boston-based behavioral health group, Commonwealth Psychology Associates LLC, created a Facebook page to bring psychology and mental health treatment out of the closet and into mainstream culture. The informative page counters outdated dogma about psychology and mental health treatment by providing evidence-based information about psychological issues and effective treatments. Fans receive updates and posts from two blogs about psychology, behavioral health, neuropsychology and neuroscience. The page has been an instant success and already has hundreds of fans – proof that psychology can be cool and part of mainstream society.

We hope our Facebook page helps people feel more comfortable about seeking behavioral health services whenever needed,” said Dr. Andrea Piatt.

Remember when psychology and mental health treatment were taboo, something to be hidden? While this old-fashioned dogma has been slowly changing over the years, some still view participation in psychology and behavioral health services as something that should stay in the closet. But, a Boston-based psychology and behavioral health practice thinks otherwise. Commonwealth Psychology Associates (CPA) recently launched a Facebook page to provide friends in the community and across the country with state of the art facts and information about various behavioral health problems, relevant evidence-based treatments and how to find help.

Our main purpose for setting up the Facebook page was to bring psychology and behavioral health out of the closet and into the mainstream of society - and what better way to do that than to be part of a premier social networking venue, said Dr. Andrea Piatt, CEO and founder of Commonwealth Psychology Associates.

Indeed, most people feel comfortable telling friends, family and even co-workers that they have a dental appointment or even a medical appointment, yet few are willing to say they are leaving work to see their psychologist. “We believe this is related to lingering fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by others who might think someone must have serious problems if they need to see a “shrink,” said Dr. Piatt. “We felt a responsibility to counter these outdated beliefs by educating the public about just how truly commonplace counseling, psychotherapy and other behavioral health services are. I think people would be surprised to know how many of their friends, family members and co-workers participate in some form of behavioral health treatment,” she added.

But, Dr. Piatt found that not all behavioral health providers felt comfortable with the idea of having a Facebook page. “I was surprised by some of the ambivalence and uncertainty expressed by other behavioral health providers in the community,” Dr. Piatt said.

Some providers believe that psychotherapy is so private and personal that clients might view having a Facebook page negatively. “While this perspective is not judgmental about participation in services, it inadvertently contributes to the idea that the very common struggles many people experience, such as depression, anxiety and stress related problems, still need to remain hidden, out of sight,” said Dr. Piatt. And, she added, “This has not been our experience so far. Many people have “Liked” our page and we already have hundreds of fans.”

To find out whether people consider the page helpful, Dr. Piatt put her beliefs to the test; the CPA page posted a question asking fans whether they thought the page helped to make participation in psychology services more acceptable, mainstream. “While we’ve only had a small number of responses so far, the overwhelming majority has endorsed 'absolutely' while no one has said it does not help,” she said. “We are hoping to continue to receive responses so that we can determine how the community feels about our page,” she also said.

CPA plans to add more questions in the future to determine what fans would like to see more of or what is less helpful. “We have had our regular website for years and it also offers a lot of information that people find helpful, but the Facebook page allowed us to not only conduct polls but also to include some more information, photos and two ongoing blogs that provide information about behavioral health and also brain/neuroscience related topics.” We are excited about the new page and hope it is helpful and informative for all of our fans,” Dr. Piatt said. She added, “But most of all, we hope it helps people feel more comfortable about seeking behavioral health services whenever needed.”

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