Accessing Online Support Communities, to Support Your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Sometimes it's good to talk to others about how we are feeling and get things off of our chests.

In a world where we have access to services online that can help with our mental health and wellbeing, more and more resources are being created to foster a supportive environment for young people to talk to each other, receive support and even counselling through the click of a few buttons.

However, being safe online, such as keeping your personal information private in order to protect yourself or being mindful of how much you share with others about your circumstances, is important too, and ensuring you have access to information that is trustworthy, relevant and most importantly, factual, is vital.

Here we share information about some online services that are being used across Scotland and what they offer.

Kooth

Kooth is an online wellbeing community that offers free, anonymous support in a variety of different ways. Kooth has an online magazine, where you can find articles created by service-users and the team relating to personal experiences and personal tips and advice. It also hosts discussion boards, similar to using a forum, where you can chat to other users about various topics, as well as one-on-one chat functions with the team behind Kooth. You can also keep an online journal in your account to track your own journey.

Kooth has received accreditation from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the company behind the service is Kooth PLC, a digital mental health and wellbeing company.

Find out more about Kooth in their video below.

Togetherall

Togetherall is a globally-based online community which operates in the UK and aims to provide a platform for people to anonymously support each other to improve mental health and wellbeing. In the UK, most people access Togetherall through an employer, education, or a local NHS service or council. With a Togetherall account, users can take assessments, complete courses, journal and learn more to understand their mental health as well as access the anonymous community of support, available from other members 24/7.

Find out more about Togetherall in their video below.

Cool2Talk

Cool2Talk is a safe space for young people age 12 and over living in Tayside, The Western Isles, Dumfries and Galloway and Argyll and Bute, provided by local NHS services. At the moment the service isn't available in the Borders, but the website offers a similar service to Togetherall and Kooth. On Cool2Talk's website, you can ask questions about any topic anonymously and confidentially, and receive an answer within 24 hours from a member of the team. You can also view other people's questions anonymously. Cool2Talk's team are made up of trained accredited counsellors and experienced workers.

Find out more about Cool2Talk in the video below.

Being Safe

When joining any kind of online community, whether it's to speak to others about your mental health, comment on forums, or play an online multiplayer game, it's important to consider how much you share with others about yourself and recognise how to find information that you can trust.

When researching mental health or how we feel, we can sometimes come across diagnosis that might scare or trouble us. It's important to distinguish what is misinformation or disinformation, and get the facts.

If you're concerned about your health in any way, including your mental health and wellbeing, you should always try to approach your GP, who can diagnose and offer a variety of treatment to you if it's required.

While it's great to find likeminded people online who seem to feel exactly the same as we do, and be reassured we're not alone in what we've been going through, precaution is still neccessary when you're interacting with people you don't know. This helps to keep you and others in your online communities safe. Find out more about joining an online community.

More information

These online services are not intended for crisis intervention or in an emergency. If you need immediate support, these services can help:

Samaritans

Samaritans is a charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide.

NHS24

NHS24 provides urgent care, advice and mental health support day or night.

Childline

Childline is a free service available to help anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through, run by NSPCC.

For information on mental health and emotional wellbeing, as well as where to find support, visit Young Scot's AyeFeel campaign.

For information on online safety and cyber security, plus how to identify trustworthy information and how to learn more about the digital world, visit Young Scot's #DigiKnow campaign.

Visit the Borders Wellbeing page for local information and opportunities in the Scottish Borders.