Using YouTube Videos in Mental Health Educational Groups

Updated on June 16, 2018
Blake Flannery profile image

Blake has worked in the mental health field since 2002 educating and inspiring hope on the journey toward recovery.

YouTube Bridges the Gap for Clinicians

Many mental health clinicians may find themselves alone in their curriculum development with less guidance than a public school teacher has. For this reason, finding good resources for mental health education can be a challenge. High quality videos are one of those resources that were traditionally difficult to acquire. Videos ordered in the conventional way can cost hundreds of dollars, and the videos may end up not meeting your needs or the needs of the clients.

YouTube has revolutionized the way people learn. There's no reason that YouTube can't revolutionize the way people learn about mental health topics. As a mental health professional, YouTube videos provide a powerful resource in your quest to help the people in your care.

This is a Great Example of an Excellent Mental Health Education Video

How to Bring YouTube to the Clients

If you are engaging your clients with YouTube videos in groups, then you'll need a nice sized display. I suggest at least 32 inch display for groups up to 8 people. You may need a 47 or 60 inch display for groups of 10 or more. Also, you'll need a way to stream your videos to the display. Some televisions have smart functions that include the YouTube app. Then you'll need to make sure you have WiFi or a standard Ethernet connection to supply the tv with internet access.

There are several other ways to display YouTube videos, and using a steaming device is a great way to bring smart functions to a non-smart tv. I suggest using a tv or streaming device with "Google TV" software built in, and a remote control with a keyboard. This will help ensure that you can find your videos simply and efficiently when you need them for your groups.

Some gadgets, like the Chromecast, allow you to display your smart phone or tablet onto your TV. This is the cheapest way to go at this time. I would rather have a dedicated remote control with a keyboard for quick navigation though. That will cost you around $100 or more with what is on the market now.

Cautions and Considerations

Due to the nature of YouTube being open to just about anyone to upload, some caution and consideration should be used in selection of videos. All videos should be pre-screened before being used with clients.

As with any videos you may show, there is a potential for someone to be offended or put off by something in the video. For this reason, make sure that you introduce the video as well as you can to prevent any surprises. Explain the purpose of showing the video ahead of time, so assumptions aren't made by your clients.

Selecting High Quality Mental Health Videos

Criteria for Selecting Great Content

  • Engaging: The content should be engaging
  • Adds Value: A video of someone lecturing may be informative, but doesn't add much more than what you could do on your own. Watch out for “talking head” videos.
  • Credible: Many videos on YouTube are produced by lay people. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to misinformation. You, as a professional, need to evaluate each video and channel to decide whether the information presented is credible. Many organization or government produced videos are easy to spot by the higher quality, but you can also look for links to a website in the about section.
  • Population Specific: Sometimes a really great video just won’t work for some odd reason. For example, maybe the age appropriateness is not right for your clients, or maybe the content is too rigorous for your clients. Another thing to make sure the video is relevent to the group of people.

Making Playlists is an Essential Preparation

If you create playlists under a YouTube account, it can be faster and more convenient than putting in a DVD.
If you create playlists under a YouTube account, it can be faster and more convenient than putting in a DVD.

Building Playlists for Various Topics

Tips for Using YouTube Efficiently

  • Get a device with a remote that is easy to use. A few models such as the NeoTV Prime have full qwerty keyboards.
  • Spend more time setting up your channels and playlists ahead of time, so you will spend less time finding the videos you want to show to clients.
  • For most efficiency, get a “Google TV” equipped device. Any device or TV with the Google play store will allow you the benefits of app updates. These updates bring you more and better features, such as simple channel sign in selection from one account.
  • Ensure that you have a good connection to WiFi. You can also hard wire your network cable from your router if you need to.

Other Ways to Use a Streaming Device

Since there are tons of Apps you can use including a full web browser, streaming devices have the potential to provide many engaging forms of media. Using the web browser to show clients websites or how to research mental health resources could enhance their ability to use the internet in problem solving.

Make a list of websites that you find especially helpful on certain topics, and spend a little time visiting those websites toward the end of each session. This will encourage your clients to do homework independently.

Starting each session with a relaxation video may help with clients with high anxiety. Remember, even a 3 minute video can be effective. Sometimes a funny video can help get people talking and feel relaxed.

A Few Good Videos to Get You Started

Below are some really good examples of videos related to mental health. Reachoutfilms is an excellent YouTube channel for short videos that can serve as discussion starters about a variety of Mental Health topics. You may, however, find excellent videos that weren't necessarily aiming at mental health education.

Louis Schwartzberg produced a video about gratitude that inspires me every time I watch it. What an introduction to an activity such as writing a gratitude list! Then you can close with a video about the benefits of gratitude from the channel WatchWellcast.

Video about Gratitude

Video about the Benefits of Gratitude

Video about Safety Planning for Self Harm

Video about Anger Management

Video about Dealing with Emotions

What Do You Think?

Do you think it's a good idea to use YouTube in Mental Health Groups?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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