Who runs Real Mental Health? Who owns HealthyPlace.com? Are they one and the same?
These are interesting questions to ask, because you can’t find such information on their websites. What makes it even more interesting is what recently happened to the Real Mental Health website that demonstrates a behind-the-scenes connection between these two sites — a connection not acknowledged anywhere on either site.
Real Mental Health is a small mental health community built upon a third-party social networking suite of tools. The website used to reside at realmentalhealth.com. But at the end of May, the site suddenly went away without notice to its members. That’s when the intrigue began.
It came back a week later at a different URL (realmentalhealthsite.com), with little explanation as to what happened.
But what makes this interesting (rather than just another everyday occurrence) is suddenly all the URLs that were previously indexed by Google are now redirecting to a site called HealthyPlace.com. HealthyPlace.com is the same company that apparently provides all of the advertising for Real Mental Health. How is it that your advertising partner suddenly owns your domain? The only benefit of taking over the domain that I can see is that all of the previously indexed pages in the search engines over the past 4 years now point to the HealthyPlace.com domain (at least temporarily). This means an artificial traffic boost for HealthyPlace — because people are trying to get to Real Mental Health.
Before we contacted Real Mental Health for comment on this article, they also claimed they enjoyed HONcode certification on their website. HONcode is a simple set of ethical principles health sites can voluntarily agree to abide by. They proudly displayed their HONcode badge, although clicking on it revealed the truth — the site hasn’t been in compliance with the HONcode for over two years.
Real Mental Health doesn’t have much in the way of information about themselves except their mailing address, which is an apartment building in Miami. Attempts to contact them for comment about this article were not returned.
Meanwhile over at HealthyPlace.com, the “people behind it” tries to reassure the visitor that HealthyPlace “is a privately held company started by people who are committed to the idea of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.” So who are they and are what are their backgrounds? The page doesn’t say.
A little digging finds that Gary Koplin is the CEO and the only listed owner of HealthyPlace.com. His LinkedIn page notes, in part, “For the last 20 years, I have been a serial entrepeneur [sic]. Over that period of time, I started 5 businesses ranging from a construction company to a nanny agency to what is now the largest consumer mental health site on the net… I have taken my present company from $0.00 to nearly $1M in the last 18 months.” Nothing wrong with a serial entrepreneur in running a successful mental health site — but why the secrecy on the HealthyPlace website?
We believe in transparency and knowing who your mental health information is coming from and who’s running your community. That’s why our About Us pages tell you who owns and runs the site (me!), and who staffs it — mostly mental health professionals. We’re not ashamed of who’s behind Psych Central, because we’ve built this site over 15 years on the principles that mental health professionals working in partnership with real people who suffer from mental health issues (which is most of us at one time or another in our lives) can provide the best information and resources in mental health.
We asked the owners of realmentalhealth.com to reply to a series of questions about these issues, but they declined to do so. What they did do is remove the HONcode badge on their website after we contacted them. (Coincidentally, HealthyPlace.com also lost their HONcode certification back in 2008, but has since regained it. Apparently some advertisers don’t seem to care if a site they advertise on seemingly lies about or misrepresents their HONcode accreditation.)
We sincerely hope this is the last time Real Mental Health goes away, because it’s a shame when a good mental health community loses its domain for reasons unknown. It can not only disrupt service to its members, it can cause a lot of anxiety and fear about what happened to the services members came to depend upon. We’d like to know who’s running the store over there — is it HealthyPlace? — but I guess that will remain a secret for now.