The way a person lives their life is called lifestyle. In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle, which can be achieved by taking care of mental and physical health. They both work hand-in-hand for the well-being of an individual.
Awareness regarding the importance of mental health is coming to light every passing day. The statistics concerning mental health are staggering. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their life. Mental illness is one of the leading causes of ill-health.
In a nutshell, mental health means the level of psychological well-being of a person.
In this article, we will focus on the needs and benefits of having an online community for mental health.
Why do we need an online community for mental health?
Often, getting help for mental illnesses is not easy for a variety of reasons. The resources may not be available or the fear of getting judged may prevent a person from acknowledging their mental state and seeking help.
In such cases, the online community acts as a safe space for people. It connects people and makes them feel belonged. It serves as a refuge for people having a hard time. While it is not an alternative to therapy, it surely can guide people from all around the world.
Everyone deserves mental health support. An online community is just the means to acquire it. It is one of the most easily-accessible ways to aid people in dealing with issues.
Moreover, talking in a community that focuses on mental health is easy because you are surrounded by people who first-hand understand your condition and feelings. One can also choose to remain anonymous to protect their identity.
An online community like this aims to break the stereotypes associated with mental health and acts as a virtual support group.
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Benefits of an online community for mental health:
1. Sense of belonging:
Humans crave interaction. Man is a social animal and there is always an inherent need to be around people. Loneliness and isolation are common symptoms of someone dealing with mental health issues. A community serves as a recourse for them. It is a one-stop destination for them to vent, share feelings and stories and seek information.
At the fundamental level, communities are groups. It gives the feeling of a ‘community’. Interaction with other members and being a part of something makes people feel truly belonged. They feel valued and important which in turn validates them. There is no judgment in an online community. This enables members to be their true selves, share thoughts and feelings and be accepted for who they are.
Communicating with other members makes one feel less alone. Such a sense of belonging assures members that they are in this together.
2. Provides support:
The basic feature of any community is to provide support.
Often, in our world, mental health is not taken seriously. It is still a taboo in many countries. If people refuse to acknowledge it, there can be no scope of treating it. Living in a society where people do not care about well-being is harsh and difficult. Such individuals can be a part of online communities and receive the support they desperately need. It is a forum where members can talk about everything related to their mental health. Questions can be asked, stories can be shared, experiences with therapists can be told and help can be given to those who need it. Sharing feelings, emotions and thoughts is an effective way of processing what one goes through.
For people who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, mood or personality disorders, such groups can extend support. Validation from fellow members can go a long way.
It is also said that online communities that function well can facilitate a positive change of emotions.
3. Absence of barriers:
Online communities are usually welcoming of people from all over the world. Anyone can be a part of it. It pays no attention to background, race, religion and color. This feature is important. When a community strives to be a safe space for people, there cannot be any distinction between its members. Having no geographical barrier accomplishes the very purpose of a mental health online community.
For a lot of people, enough resources are not available. It is difficult to seek help for reasons more than one. For the betterment of their mental health, an online community can supply suggestions and advice that may help them lead a good life.
4. Information and therapy:
An online community can be a pool of relevant and accurate information online. More details about different types of mental illnesses can be explained, blogs can be written about the symptoms and treatment options for different kinds of issues, coping mechanisms can be shared and other such useful data can be made available for all its members.
Trained and licensed therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists can offer to provide their services or host seminars to spread awareness. Sessions can be conducted online. A list of mental health practitioners residing in different parts of the world can be shared with others. All this leads to an open discussion and encourages members to identify their illness and seek help if needed.
Communities need to ensure that only accurate information is available. Members can share their routines and techniques that helped them. Meditation and exercise sessions can be organized. Workbooks and other books on mental health can be provided for members to read. The community can come up with various ideas to help spread awareness of the importance of mental health.
Lastly, the community can provide its members with helpline numbers and different ways to contact professionals in times of distress.
When used efficiently, the internet can do wonders. It can make people feel belonged, understood and connected with the world.
If you think there are not enough dependable mental health communities online, we urge you to create one today. Connect with interested people from all over who understand why mental well-being is necessary. Talk and most of all, listen to your fellow members. Make your community useful, resourceful, supportive and help in breaking the stigma associated with mental health. Together, we do better.