It’s Mental Health Awareness Month!
At Dream See Do we are dedicated to highlighting the importance of wellbeing and how online learning communities play a role in promoting wellness.
Community integration is widely recognized as a crucial component of recovery from serious mental illness. Studies have shown that persons with mental illness are better off when they live in and are a part of a community.
According to Bond and colleagues (1), “Community integration entails helping consumers to move out of patient roles, treatment centers, segregated housing arrangements, and work enclaves and enabling them to move toward . . . normal adult roles in community settings.”
Community based mental health care is considered to be one of the best strategies to effectively and efficiently address the burden of mental disorders. They are also a great source of support, accessibility and help bridge the mental health treatment gap.
One fascinating initiative is the Friendship Bench that started in Zimbabwe.
“Friendship benches are a safe place for people struggling with anxiety and depression to find help. We are not conventional; our therapy rooms are outdoors under trees and our therapists are elderly Zimbabwean women. These women are city, lay health workers who have become known as "community grandmothers.”
Initiatives like the Friendship Bench highlight what communities can do to address mental health issues and awareness.
But how can this be exercised in an online environment?
What can online learning communities do to help address mental health issues?
The onset of online forums have encouraged people to share, reach out and provide support in different avenues and challenges of life. Mental health topics are one of the leading topics in online forums. This gave rise to online communities that focus specifically on different mental health issues. An example of this is the beyondblue Online Forums - a community for people experiencing or recovering from mental illness, and their friends, family and carergivers.
Online communities have provided safe spaces for mental health to be discussed, provide resources and raised awareness. At Dream See Do, we strive to be a resource for providing that safe space by by encouraging transformational agents - coaches, healers, trainers, teachers- to create communities of practice and learning. Clients like CT Behavioral Health and Social Black Belt use our platform everday to provide valuable education and community to those looking for help and understand.
Creating health and wellness living and learning communities can give deeper understanding of mental health. Furthermore, it can pave the way for people to practice strategies that are beneficial to recovery, integration and a better quality of life.
Have you used online tools to support your mental wellbeing? What worked for you?