Abstract: (Withdrawn) Telehealth "Verzuz" Radical Telehealing: Reimagining Digital Social Media As Virtual Healing Spaces for Black Women (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

14P (Withdrawn) Telehealth "Verzuz" Radical Telehealing: Reimagining Digital Social Media As Virtual Healing Spaces for Black Women

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Chelsea Allen, MSW, PhD. Student, Columbia University, New York, NY
Zuleka Henderson, PhD., Director, The Center for Black Well-being
Jalana Harris, PhD, Instructor/Lectrurer, Columbia University, New York, NY
Courtney Cogburn, PhD, Associate Professor, Columbia University, New York, NY
Rachel Chang, Student, Columbia University
Errica Williams, Student, Columbia School of Social Work
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing racial disparities in mental health, as well as, in service access and utilization. While intersectional analyses are limited, it is evident that Black women are more likely to face multiple threats and traumas resulting from the pandemic. The rapid expansion of telehealth services during this pandemic has generally transplanted care models, grounded in White supremacy, from physical to virtual spaces. Within these systems of care, Black women are more likely to experience secondary victimization and retraumatization when seeking mental health treatment. The conception of “telehealth”, as well as Western healthcare models, needs to be reimagined to better reflect the unique care needs of Black women. Grounded in intersectionality and radical healing frameworks, we look to Black women to help us reimagine and broaden the technologies included under the “telehealth” umbrella. We examine engagements on social media platforms as venues for self-guided care, particularly for Black women, with the ultimate goal of evaluating implications for shaping a culturally informed decolonized model of radical telehealing focused specifically on Black women.

Methods: Study One employed qualitative thematic analysis to examine publicly available data from two, key social media engagements targeting Black audiences (N = 2000 comments) (DJ D-Nice’s “Club Quarantine'' and the VERZUZ online series). Study Two utilized data garnered from focus groups conducted with Black women therapists and social media users to examine their beliefs about trauma, healing, self-care, as well as, their online and offline practices related to healing and self-care.

Results: Final analysis revealed that when speaking about their experience attending these online engagements, participants highlighted the utility of these online spaces as avenues of self-guided healing and community care. Relevant themes included describing the necessity and accessibility of such online spaces, as well as, their timeliness in relation to stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread instances of police brutality against black bodies. Other prominent themes included the utility of virtual spaces to supplement social and interpersonal connection, as well as, their ability to contribute to shifts in thinking, behavior, and emotional state. Notably, participants' responses centered community-level, in addition to, individual-level care.

Conclusions and Implications: In spite of systemic failings, Black women often find ways to manage self-care and healing independent of traditional mental health models. Social media and health research have commonly focused on threats of overuse, harassment, and supporting patient-client engagement and health communication. We propose that social media platforms function as venues for self-guided care, particularly for Black women, and are a significant and under-examined area of research. This study provides key implications for telehealth service provision for Black communities and, more specifically, for Black women. These results indicate that virtual and social media spaces are being utilized by Black audiences to engage in self and community care, wellness, and healing. As we seek ways to increase the accessibility of telehealth services, social media engagements, like these, have the potential to directly inform culturally-grounded techniques to deliver mental health services to Black communities.