Given the prevalence of mental illness within the community I’d be surprised if there was anyone on campus who hadn’t at one time or another been concerned about a family member of friend. Maybe you have noticed that your friend has stopped coming to lectures? Or that there general mood is lower than previous weeks? Or perhaps they are saying or doing things out of character? If you have noticed something out of the ordinary chances are you haven’t been sure what to say or do about it. Or maybe you have but the behaviour continues and you feel you need some support from peers in the same position?
Arafmi and Sane Australia have developed an online Carers Forum for the friends, families and carers of people who experience mental illness. The forum provides a safe space for you to sharer stories and offer or receive some peer support. It have discussion threads across 6 different areas: stories, looking after ourselves, something’s not right, whats new in services, research and technologies, about the carers forum and special events. The forum has a Community Manager and a series of moderators who guide the site and make sure the posts you make are being posted in the best place for peers to notice them and respond.
You can post yourself, or read others posts and like them. You can also reply to others and see the replies from others. Some of the replies are from the community manager and moderators and often contain links to useful services and resources. There is also a Lived Experience Forum which operates the same way. This forum is designed for people living with a mental illness or experiencing mental health issues. You could always point the one your concerned about to this site or read through a few of the discussions here and try and build on your understanding of mental illness from the perspective of someone who is living with one.
What’s good about it: The discussion boards are moderated to ensure that the stigma of mental health isn’t perpetuated and that individual’s can support from their peers.
What’s not so good about it: To be honest it’s pretty good. I guess you could say that there are no professional opinions from mental health professionals – but to be honest if there were it wouldn’t be a peer forum would it.