In my opinion, there is nothing better than real life, in person help for mental health concerns. But the reality is that there are so many barriers to these types of interactions: rural locations, stigma, finances, social and cultural norms, internal pressure…the list is (unfortunately) endless.

The good news is that we live in an era of connectivity and we can find help online. I am, in no way suggesting that we substitute real life support with online support, but for those of us who want to augment our treatment, or if those barriers are like boulders and too heavy to move, then online support can be life altering.

The problem with turning to the internet for help is that there’s a plethora of information and as you might already be aware of, and it’s not all correct. So, this blog is to help you find information, use support groups, and find resources to improve your mental health.

 

Finding accurate information

Anyone can publish information online that is not true; it is hard to discern what is true and what are myths. Try to find websites that are supported by evidence. Also, government hosted websites or medical centre hosted websites are often more accurate.

Here are some good examples of accurate information:

http://www.cmha.ca/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/index.shtml

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/

 

Support groups or forums

Before you go searching for others who may understand what you’re going through, think about the reasons you are using the forums. Are you seeking help from others? Are you wondering if others have had similar side effects to medications? Are you just wanting to vent? All of these are great reasons to use the internet for assistance but before posting on support groups, it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • By posting this question, am I prepared for the answers? For example, if I posted the question “does anxiety and depression ever go away?” and the responses are typically “no, you have to work at it”, I might feel a little defeated. Think about the possibility that someone might give you a negative response and remember, just because one person’s life has gone one way does not mean that yours will as well.
  • Is my response helpful to anyone? While venting and complaining are important to human nature, it’s not going to help anyone to be overly negative. Think of a constructive response, if possible, that gives the writer a little hope.
  • Is my mind open? An open mindset is key to connecting with others online. Perhaps you have asked for advice regarding coping strategies- don’t discount possible strategies because you think that they’re lame.
  • Is it safe to share this? As always while on the internet, be aware of and be comfortable with what you’re sharing. Anonymity means you can share your heart online- I’m just recommending that you be sure you feel completely anonymous before sharing.

Here are three links to general mental health support forums:

https://www.mentalhealthforum.net/

https://forums.psychcentral.com/

http://www.healthyplace.com/forum/

 

Using free resources

You will be surprised by the amount of free self-help resources on the internet. It takes diligence to follow through on your own but some resources can be super helpful.

Here are some suggestions for self-help worksheets, booklets, manuals, etc.

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/consumers.cfm

http://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheets/cbt/none

http://psychologytools.com/download-therapy-worksheets.html

http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/health-wellness/wellness-strategies/wellness.pdf

http://www.ccbh.com/pdfs/HCMembers/stepsofhope/recovery/takingaction/actionplanningworkbook.pdf

http://vet2vetusa.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=aY9UPl%2BL6uY%3D&tabid=67

http://www.brainline.org/downloads/PDFs/SUBIClientWorkbook.pdf

 

Good luck on your internet mental health endeavors!

Always remember to be safe and include a mental health professional whenever possible.

About the Author

Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: tara_richardson913@hotmail.com Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.