Mental Health Forums: The Good And The Bad
There are a number of mental health forums online and they can bring a ton of help and comfort for those of use who deal with mental health issues. Now like anything else found online there are advantages and disadvantages to those who choose to participate in these particular message boards. In this article I am not going to review the various forums around as this has been done to death and to be honest it is better to experience each on your own as everyone has its own quirks. What we are going to look at is the advantages and disadvantages of participating in this particular type of health forum.
Mental Health Forums: My History
For years I participated in two mental health forums and was the acting moderator in one which at the time was the largest online. Through my experiences as both as moderator and a participant I have seen the good and the bad when it comes to this particular online conversation. After a number of years I realized that I was spending too much time in the online world and needed a break. I left and never went back.
Mental Health Forums: Advantages
A Community With Common Traits – Obviously the big advantage when it comes to mental health forums is that it consists of a number of people with the same common diagnosis. Whether it is depression, anxiety or PTSD automatically there is something in common which quickly translates into a bond. It is also nice to know that you are not the only person struggling with this particular mental health issue.
Shared Experiences – Another advantage of a community that has a shared mental health diagnosis is that people can suggest tips or ideas that worked for them in overcoming a difficult time or situation.
Lots Of Support – For the most part mental health forums are a great place to receive advice and lots of supports during your darker days. This support can be a lifesaver at times and it personally has helped me get out of some pretty deep holes.
Keeping Track Of Moods – If you participate every day in a mental health forum it is a great way to keep track of your moods. By tracking your moods it will help both you, your doctor and or mental health therapist figure out any patterns which may go a long way to recovery
Mental Health Forums: Disadvantages
Getting Too Involved – One of the problems when you get too involved in a mental health forum is that everything else gets ignored. Whether you are dealing with anxiety or depression it is much easier to communicate on an online forum then it is in person. A problem arises when this becomes the majority of your communication
Bad Advice – For the most part bad advice in mental health forums tends to revolve around medication. That a person should take a specific antidepressant or avoid it like the plague. That a person should immediately quit the medication that they are on because it caused this person horrific side effects. Besides this sort of information being bad it is not accurate. How a person responds to a certain medication depends on a multitude of factors and each medication will affect a person differently from the next.
Useless Advice – As well as the advice regarding medication unfortunately not every response you receive will be gold. I had a woman tell me that the reason I was dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder was because I did not pray enough. Needless to say that piece of information was not very helpful
Not A Place For Diagnosis – I am pretty good when it comes to diagnosing people, which I also refuse to do, but it would take the top doctor in the world to be able to diagnose a person with a mental health illness from a few blurbs in a forum. If you feel like you meet the criteria for a certain mental health illness contact a professional not some random person off of the web. Not only is the chance of the diagnosis being inaccurate rather high it can also be dangerous.
One of the main issues that most mental health forums try to avoid at all costs is someone threatening suicide. For most forums that I have been a part of the moderator will delete the conversation and advise the person to seek “real” help. There are a variety of reasons why mental health forums do this and the main one is for safety. Yes they are concerned it could come back as a lawsuit later but the larger factor is when a person reaches the state where suicide is a possibility they need that professional help.
Mental health forums can be a great place to receive support and advice from others but make sure to not allow it to become your only support system