I had the distinct pleasure and honor in meeting a number of the most active self-help proponents online today at a recent conference, including Dr. Tom Ferguson (who has a book coming out soon about health online), someone who has seen it all online and is an active proponent of the greater role of self-help resources in the future of medical and mental health care; Dan Ash from America OnLine (Dan Ash is his alias… Yes, he has a real name!), an honestly nice guy who has long maintained the AOL depression forum and also keeps track of support groups and the like on AOL; Samantha (Samajane) J. Scolamiero, an amazing woman and individual who has suffered the trauma of a brain tumor and not only lived to tell about it, but went on to form one of the most popular support groups on the Internet today, and Ed Madara, the Director of the American Self-Help Clearinghouse based in Denville, NJ. Ed runs an organization which publishes an amazing list of self-help support resources in the world and through a mutual agreement with Psych Central, is going to publish this book and make it available online, in it’s totality, entirely free of charge.
I can not begin to express the individual and mutual admiration I feel for each of these people, whom, over the course of a mere 2 days, I felt like I got to know a little better personally, but even more importantly, heard of their individual accomplishments and achievements in the online world of self-help. They all have amazing stories to tell and I do hope that someday, one of us will write them all down to tell them.
Which brings me to something that will appear in the FAQ shortly, and perhaps in its own stand-alone file . . . How do I go about creating a new support group online for mutual self-help on a particular topic?? This is, of course, assuming that you’ve checked all the regular places first to make sure nothing yet exists on your topic… Once that is done, it’s a few easy steps to creating your own support group! (A few harder steps to maintain it, though, especially if it is a mailing list as opposed to a newsgroup.) Look for this information to appear shortly. (Please do not contact me asking for it before I post it online to everyone… It makes my life easier.)
Also, one of the things that I thought was an excellent idea that came out of this conference was the idea of a support forum for forum leaders of support groups. The collective knowledge of all of these great people could do wonders in terms of answering simple questions that must come up time and time again, such as what to do in case a flame war breaks out on a mailing list, how do I handle a crisis situation with one of my users or members of the list, etc. I will also be posting the subscription address to this list here shortly, as well as advertising it elsewhere. The only requirement for subscribing to it will be that you are a forum leader of some sort, whether it be on a mailing list, a discussion forum on some commercial online service, a chat moderator, a newsgroup moderator, etc.
If you want the whole shi-bang of over 2,500 separate resources that have to do with psychiatry and mental health online, then you might want to visit Psych Central. It’s the largest and most comprehensive site of its kind in the world and we’re looking to build upon it in the upcoming years, acting as a super guide to mental health online. If you didn’t find what you needed here, look there next!
That’s all for this week… As always, keep in good mental health!