SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
January/February 2011, Volume 19, Number 1 

What Are the Challenges?

Social media’s environment is inherently competitive. To attract visitors, SAMHSA “tries to be as engaging and creative as possible;” said Deanna Stephens, a member of SAMHSA’s web and social media team in the Office of Communications. “But, we are competing with compelling raw video on YouTube and breaking news from around the world.”

According to Andrew Wilson, another member of SAMHSA’s social media team, the Federal Government’s rules for use of social media platforms create some challenges. He highlighted a few of these challenges at the CADCA conference in a SAMHSA session (with Ms. Stephens) on social media.

The challenges include:

Accessibility. All Federal agencies are required by law to make sure that the content they post on the Internet is accessible to individuals with disabilities. That includes individuals who are blind, are deaf, have cognitive disabilities, or have difficulties using a mouse. “When we post content to third-party sources such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, we only have limited control and cannot guarantee that those platforms are entirely accessible,” Mr. Wilson said. “That means we need to provide other options for accessing the information we post on these sites. That’s one big challenge we face.”

Privacy. Social media is all about sharing. Unfortunately, some people are posting personal information that really should not be shared in a public setting—for example, their doctor’s name, their home address, or even the behavioral health history of family members. When this information is posted on social media sites that SAMHSA manages, such as its Facebook page, this adds to the challenges that SAMHSA has in responsibly engaging in social media.

Risk management. To use social media tools and to place your own personal information on the Internet in a public way does carry some risk. As individuals, this is an acceptable risk for many of us. Organizations, however, respond to risk differently, and it can take longer for organizations to figure out how to exist in this new, more social, world.

Service issues. The Government Services Administration (GSA) negotiates unique Terms of Service (TOS) agreements for SAMHSA’s and other HHS agencies’ use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms. For private citizens, to set up a personal social media account, we don’t think twice about checking a Terms of Service box. But there are clauses in those boilerplate TOS agreements that the Federal Government cannot accept or sign. “This complicates things,” Mr. Wilson said. “We are limited in what we can do.”


  Cover Story & Related Articles  
Increasing Outreach, Feedback, and Virtual Communities

Increasing Outreach, Feedback, and Virtual Communities

SAMHSA has developed a “digital engagement” program with presences on major social media channels.


  From the Administrator  
Above All, SAMHSA Seeks To Improve Lives

Above All, SAMHSA Seeks To Improve Lives

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., talks about SAMHSA’s newly revised document on the Strategic Initiatives. Read more.


  In the News  
President’s Budget

President’s Budget

The FY 2012 Budget requests $3.6 billion for SAMHSA. View the chart.

Oil Spill Update: Call 1-800-985-5990

Oil Spill Update: Call 1-800-985-5990

To support those affected, SAMHSA and the Ad Council created a new awareness campaign.


  Military Families  
Presidential Initiative

Presidential Initiative

A new directive establishes a coordinated Federal approach to supporting military families. View Resources.


  Prevention  
Prevention Day 2011

Prevention Day 2011

Prevention Day included games and fun for local students. Photo Gallery.


  National Expenditures  
Behavioral Health Spending Down

Behavioral Health Spending Down

In 2005, $1.8 trillion was spent on all U.S. health care services; behavioral health spending accounted for 7.3 percent.


  Suicide Prevention  
Marvel Comics’ Superheroes Help

Marvel Comics’ Superheroes Help

“Captain America” is giving a little help to save young lives. Read more on SAMHSA’s blog.

Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors: Who’s at Risk?

Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors: Who’s at Risk?

An estimated 8.4 million adults age 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide last year.


  Treatment Admissions  
Dramatic Shifts State by State

Dramatic Shifts State by State

By region, treatment admissions show striking variations.

Trauma-Related Counseling

Trauma-Related Counseling

Mental health screenings can help identify clients who have experienced trauma.


  Recovery  
Months Away, But . . .

Months Away, But . . .

Things are happening on the Recovery Month website. View webcasts and more.


  Statistics & Data  
Jump in Number of Pharmaceutical-Related Emergencies

Jump in Number of Pharmaceutical-Related Emergencies

A 98.4-percent increase in ER visits is related to the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals.


  Visit the SAMHSA Store  

Free Publications at Your Fingertips

SAMHSA’s website includes the new SAMHSA Store for publications and other Agency products. Visit store.samhsa.gov.

SAMHSA Store Video Tour

View the story of the SAMHSA Store. Find out how keyword taxonomy helps your search.