IRL mental services can be fragmented and people face a number of barriers to accessing services:
- difficulty finding good information about what is available
- shame and/or fear of stigma
- transportation and/or hours of service
- difficulty feeling comfortable, having rapport with the counselor/therapist
IRL service agencies in Canada are trying to improve this by including professional and peer support workers. For example, the Canadian Mental Health Association supports the value of peer support:
“Living with a mental illness can make you feel isolated. The stigma associated with mental illness doesn’t help, either. The typical route to recovery can involve counselling and medication. But, there’s a powerful recovery tool that is often left untapped. This tool is peer support.” (CMHA article, Oct 18, 2018)
The Friendship Bench article was deeply touching and got me thinking of alternative supports for MH. It’s becoming more accepted in health, so why not MH? It’s a puzzle I have been working on. I have 4 university degrees (2 bachelors, masters in social work, and Ph.D. in education) and a lifetime of experience as a person with mental health issues. Yet, where I live, I’m not qualified to be a ‘counselor’ and while I accept that and support professional accountability, there should be a role for people like me. The Grandmothers. Thank you, Vikram.
Peace & progress.
I am serious about my question in this post, but it needs clarification: I am referring specifically to online support. CMHA and other places hire people like me with lived experience and I’m sure I could do that. However, my health and mental health are not, at this time, conducive to a regular job (I’ve written before about my experience on long-term disability).
I’m working toward acceptance of my abilities and capabilities now. Just because I can’t return to my job, doesn’t mean I can’t contribute. I’ve been reading and researching and feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the leads online. Most of which ‘lead’ nowhere. This morning I’ve come to a moment of clarity: community development 101. Ask the community what it needs. I haven’t worked in community development for a decade, but thankfully I haven’t lost all I learned (I also wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the topic of online information seeking).
Please take a moment and use the comment feature to tell me about your experiences and struggles getting help online:
- what type of mental illness do you have?
- what has been helpful to you? (some examples would be Twitter, Reddit, blogs, apps, chat rooms, discussion forums, etc.)
- what kind of help do you think would be valuable online?
I invite people to have a conversation about this and see what emerges. Thanks for reading this post.
Peace & progress,