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Korranation

Mental Health Section

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I think it would be a great idea to start a mental health section on the forums. I see plenty of rebels tagging their challenges and battle logs with "mental health," but not having a central place to discuss it and share helpful articles, books, and personal insights about these issues. 

 

It would also be a great idea to make a survey monkey on both the forums and the fb academy to get a sense of what mental health topics are a big concern to our fellow rebels and they would like to be discussed. 

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On 12/26/2017 at 12:54 AM, Korranation said:

I think it would be a great idea to start a mental health section on the forums. I see plenty of rebels tagging their challenges and battle logs with "mental health," but not having a central place to discuss it and share helpful articles, books, and personal insights about these issues. 

 

It would also be a great idea to make a survey monkey on both the forums and the fb academy to get a sense of what mental health topics are a big concern to our fellow rebels and they would like to be discussed. 

 

Would it? This comes up now and then, and I keep cringing at how terrible mental health sections of other forums can be. Any forum tends to have a moderate turnover rate among the membership, and health/fitness forums seem to have it a bit worse than others. This dynamic combined with mental health focused discussions often means the section quickly degenerates into people in pain appearing to vent, then vanishing forever. They might get therapeutic benefit from posting, but when I don't have a chance to form a relationship with these posters, i find their content fairly draining and of no therapeutic value to myself. Added to that dynamic is the reality that very few people (myself included) want to act as mental health authorities in these sub-forums, which means there's often no direction or structure beyond the most basic rules of civility. I've volunteered extensively with group therapy/self-help programs in religious contexts, and been closely involved in friends/family inpatient psych care; the successes of those group support systems seems to come from the relationships between the members, and the structure provided by the program administrators. Both elements seem challenging in a forum context. @RedStone might have more insight from her experience running a similar group on a forum (but don't listen to her if she contradicts me).

As a person that struggles with depression/anxiety, I've really enjoyed the contrast of interacting with the other nerds as people and not as diagnoses. While I've been using different tags off and on so that nerds with similar struggles could tune in if they wanted, relationships and shared activities/interests are what I find most helpful.

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On 12/29/2017 at 12:28 PM, Laghail said:

 

Would it? This comes up now and then, and I keep cringing at how terrible mental health sections of other forums can be. Any forum tends to have a moderate turnover rate among the membership, and health/fitness forums seem to have it a bit worse than others. This dynamic combined with mental health focused discussions often means the section quickly degenerates into people in pain appearing to vent, then vanishing forever. They might get therapeutic benefit from posting, but when I don't have a chance to form a relationship with these posters, i find their content fairly draining and of no therapeutic value to myself. Added to that dynamic is the reality that very few people (myself included) want to act as mental health authorities in these sub-forums, which means there's often no direction or structure beyond the most basic rules of civility. I've volunteered extensively with group therapy/self-help programs in religious contexts, and been closely involved in friends/family inpatient psych care; the successes of those group support systems seems to come from the relationships between the members, and the structure provided by the program administrators. Both elements seem challenging in a forum context. @RedStone might have more insight from her experience running a similar group on a forum (but don't listen to her if she contradicts me).

As a person that struggles with depression/anxiety, I've really enjoyed the contrast of interacting with the other nerds as people and not as diagnoses. While I've been using different tags off and on so that nerds with similar struggles could tune in if they wanted, relationships and shared activities/interests are what I find most helpful.

On 1/4/2018 at 1:40 PM, brutalbears said:

As a therapist, *I slowly raise my hand in agreement*

 

I go back and forth on this, fair concerns from @Laghail - it can be frustrating to have  people come and go without engaging in the community, and worrisome to have unqualified people trying to guide others in need. That being said, I feel that having open dialogue is extremely important, both for the awareness, and the acceptance of mental wellness issues. (Not to mention the safety net of having a judgement free zone.) What I'm curious about is how the section could be organized so that the self driven nature of the forums develop in a positive and production direction.

 

What do you guys think we can do to help avoid some of the pitfalls? I'm thinking some pinned disclaimers and how to use this section is a good start. @brutalbears and any mental health professionals - any thoughts on do's and don'ts?

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1 hour ago, RedStone said:

What do you guys think we can do to help avoid some of the pitfalls?

I think the biggest trick comes from the vast spectrum of things that fall under the category mental health. Having a place for support with mindfulness, dealing with stress, coping with feelings of depression and anxiety, and being connected to other people has a lot of benefits. But for things like severe depression, suicidal ideation, and other more severe mental health issues forums are probably counterproductive. That being said, I know that even as mental health professionals I really struggle with stress, taking on to much, and dealing with stress related ulcers. Support for things like being mindful of how much I am doing, self-care, etc. is a huge benefit.

 

You are right, it is just a really complicated and tricky matter to deal with on a forum. I agree with your concerns over giving advice. As I mentioned this is my job, and even with all my training, years of practice, and education I would still feel very uncomfortable giving anything but simple "common sense" advice. It is almost impossible to really know where someone is at emotionally and what they really need based off of a blog post. I would suggest that a forum could be helpful for those who have already seen a mental health professional or equivalent and knows what they need to be working on (journaling, meditation, etc). Using this a place to be accountable, discussing one's plan, sharing success, and being goal oriented would be ideal, but focusing on issues, asking for too much inappropriate advice, or thinking something like this is the complete solution is a possible trap.

 

I hope that makes sense. Lol I am a talker, not a writer (you should compare my DM storytelling to @Laghail for proof lol....damn he is good!)

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I think everyone has good points. If we can make it work, it could be beneficial. But, there are a lot of buts.

 

It's a forum that would need to be kept a close eye on. And moderating mental health stuff is really draining. I've seen a fairly high turnover rate, for both regular members and mods, at forums/chatrooms that have a mental health focus (I was a mod at one ages ago). 

 

For building relationships and community online, NF is one of the few forums where I've seen it working pretty well. So, I think we could (hopefully) find a way to carry that into the subforum. 

 

We can create some structure by having disclaimers, rules, and dividing it into sections. It'll never have the same amount of structure as a therapy program. However, not everyone needs that amount of structure, and we can encourage those who do need the extra help/support/structure to seek out something in their area. It needs to be clear that we are not a substitute for professional help.

 

Creating a judgement free zone is going to be a challenge. There can be some pretty conflicting viewpoints when it comes to mental wellness/health. And certain things have more of a stigma than others (along with a general lack of good information). And there's sometimes a lack of understanding (for example, someone with depression not taking anxiety seriously, which can lead to very unhelpful comments or "advice").

 

On 1/26/2018 at 5:17 PM, brutalbears said:

But for things like severe depression, suicidal ideation, and other more severe mental health issues forums are probably counterproductive.

It's not necessarily counterproductive. And discussing dealing with those sorts of things can be useful for some people. But it's also very tricky to handle. These are sensitive subjects, and you can run into so many problems with how it's discussed.

 

And one of my concerns is people who need serious immediate help coming here instead of calling a hotline or going to the hospital. And it sometimes isn't obvious just how bad the situation is. (This is something I've seen happen, and it's one of the hardest things to deal with.)

 

On 1/26/2018 at 5:17 PM, brutalbears said:

I would suggest that a forum could be helpful for those who have already seen a mental health professional or equivalent and knows what they need to be working on (journaling, meditation, etc). Using this a place to be accountable, discussing one's plan, sharing success, and being goal oriented would be ideal, but focusing on issues, asking for too much inappropriate advice, or thinking something like this is the complete solution is a possible trap.

I think there needs to be a balance between accountability/goals, seeking advice (within reason), and having a place to vent. And at the same time strongly encouraging those that need help to seek it. Also making it clear that there is nothing wrong with getting help (there is so much stigma with this...). 

 

One other issue that comes to mind, people trying to make it a pissing contest, i.e. let's play "who's the craziest?" Which also plays into the idea of not being "crazy enough" to get help.

 

Something else to consider is triggers and trigger warnings. And a growing number of people thinking it's just some silly meme, no thanks to some who completely misuse the word. Sensitive topics are bound to come up. And someone is bound to complain that someone else went into way too much detail or that it's not something they expected to read. And then someone else is going to say that the person who complained is just overreacting. (The best way I've seen trigger warnings used is to have it in the title, and then reader beware. But if used, it needs to be done appropriately (i.e. not misusing the word "trigger"). A common thing is to put stuff into spoilers, but that actually rarely works because someone is bound to quote it, and the quote won't keep it spoilered.)

 

 

I just added to the list of things that could go wrong, didn't I? >_<

 

Basically, I think it could be a good idea. Just really difficult to pull off.

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People are already commenting on mental health issues in other sections of the community, from four-week challenges to off-topic posts. Since every one of my challenges has centered on mental health, I can say that the conversation has been active and helpful, regardless of the other users' credentials.

 

I'm part of a closed mental health Facebook group that grew out of a podcast community I belong to, and we know how Facebook works: maybe you'll get a lot of replies, maybe not. Maybe you'll ask a question and get no answers. Maybe a user vents once and then ghosts. We expect that. It's certainly true in the NF community (being a serial ghoster myself) but I've wanted to have a forum like this for years. There's something really freeing about using my NF avatar/identity in an existing community rather than using my "civilian" Facebook identity. 

 

Mental health is an essential part of physical fitness. They are not separate subjects. I've been dismayed to see NF discussions concentrate almost entirely on everything below the neck, so please consider creating a place where we can talk about the rest of it!

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