SANE Forums: connecting people across Australia
A new national online community is reaching out to all Australians affected by mental illness, wherever they live.
Using the power of the Internet, and a partnership with mental health organisations around Australia, SANE Forums are providing a peer-to-peer support service for carers and families, as well as people living with mental illness.
‘The forums are connecting many people who were previously isolated,’ explained Paul Morgan, SANE Australia’s Director of Communications, who was speaking in Albury at the 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium, hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association.
‘With professionally-trained moderators, people can feel confident to join the conversation online on an anonymous basis, share their stories and knowledge, and find support.’
‘Isolated we are alone, connected we have a voice.’
‘(The SANE Forum) gives us the courage to talk about mental health more openly.’
‘These are just a few snippets of the conversations taking place on the SANE Forums,’ said Morgan. ‘We’ve had almost 5,000 posts and more than 162,000 page visits since the launch of the Forums four months ago.’
‘Even though people in rural and regional Australia are on the whole incredibly supportive of one another and remarkably resilient, we know that they face particular stresses and when you add a mental illness to the situation, it can be really tough to deal with.
‘We know far too many Australians aren’t accessing the help they need. We have to be savvy in delivering support to more people, when they need it. Late help will always be expensive help. The SANE Forums can reduce mental health costs by encouraging people to seek help early on,’ he added.
According to Morgan, mental health communities around the globe are increasingly tapping into the internet and new technologies and platforms, to more effectively communicate with each other, provide information and support, and identify new ways of designing and delivering treatment of mental health issues and illnesses.
The SANE Forums are partnering with more and more mental health organisations around Australia. Each of these organisations can now provide the people they help with another valuable source of support, accessed through their existing websites. And as more people join, a stronger community of mutual support is built.
‘Being part of a community doesn’t remove the problem, but it can ease the burden and help us start to put the pieces back together,’ concluded Morgan.
Check out the SANE Forums at: www.saneforums.org.