A little teaser..

My lovely readers, it is only Wednesday and i am already exhausted after two days of running around speaking at conferences and presenting to over 300 delegates. 

I will be blogging about these events of course but in the meantime a little teaser.

This is the conference report from the conference i attended on Tuesday: “Young People in the Internet Wilderness: a psychological time-bomb?”: Dangers and Opportunities of the Internet by YoungMinds.where you can read a little bit about why i was there and about the work of my wonderful VIK colleagues.

 

 

Never a dull moment in mental health..

Not that i ever have anything that resembles a “quiet” week but next week is looking especially busy so i thought i would give you a little warning as to what’s coming up. And first a bit about what i have been up to so far this week.

This week:

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to meet up with Wedge and Jules from LifeSIGNS at the Tate Modern to talk about blogging, mental health and online peer support. As a long time user of their message boards and a big fan of their work it is really exciting to be working with them. 

I visited the counselling service Open Door in North London to talk about the app i’m working on and the work that they do with young people. One of my favourite parts of the project i am working on is that i am lucky enough to go and visit these incredible grassroots organisations in person and really get a feel for how they work.

And now next week..

On Monday i will be speaking at Munch, Poke Ping, a national conference about social media and vulnerable young people. 

This is followed by a conference on Tuesday run by YoungMinds and the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health “Young People in the Internet Wilderness: A Psychological Time Bomb?” which will look at the opportunities and threats faced by young people in the digital age.

At both conferences i will be talking both about my own experiences of using the internet as a therapeutic tool and the work that i am now doing with YoungMinds and MyHealthLondon, developing an app for young people living in London to help them find help when they need it.

This is followed on the Saturday by the last VIK day of the year, i can’t believe how fast this year has flown by and how much we have achieved as a project!

Really looking forward to both of the events, both presenting and listening to the fascinating speakers that are lined up for both days. I will be blogging about both of these events so watch this space!

#TalkOut with young people

#TalkOut with young people

Last Sunday saw our first ever live discussion on Twitter for young people affected by mental health problems. The title of our talks is #TalkOut and will be something we run on a regular basis alongside Youth Mental Health (@time4recovery) and Talk Out (@Talk_Out).

We  decided to look at the impact of social media on mental health issues and recovery and it was an undeniable success, so much so that it was very difficult to keep up with multiple conversations all at once!

We had a real mix of people too, Twitter cutting through hierarchies often found in clinical settings and opening up the door for young people and adults to talk openly and honestly about their experiences of mental illness and the internet.

This is of course something that is of huge interest to me personally. For me the internet had a powerful role in my mental health both in terms of illness and recovery and i think it is an area that needs much more attention given to it.

All too often, or in fact from what i see in mainstream media, the internet is reported as a dangerous place, a cyber wilderness or even wasteland populated by Innocent children and Bad adults. Pornography, gambling, bullying; these are all things that make headlines and sell papers (or get more “hits” online) but they are not the whole story, not by a long shot.

For me (and judging by Saturday’s conversation a lot of other young people) the internet was a safe place and at times the only place i could go. I did not abuse the anonymity granted to us when we step into the World Wide Web, i used it to use a voice i could not find IRL or “In Real Life”. In fact it was on the internet, in one of those infamous chat rooms the tabloids love to condemn that i found others like me, first opened up. It was because of strangers i met online that i sought help for my mental health problems in the first place.

Stories like these don’t sell papers but they do have a place and they do deserve to be told. The internet is one of, if not the, most powerful tools we have created and it has almost infinite uses, and i can’t stress this enough, some of them are good, some of them save lives.

Similarly i saw an inspirational talk on TED recently about a text messaging service in the US which has had resounding success:

http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_lublin_texting_that_saves_lives.html

We talked about how the internet and social media had affected our own recovery:

“[It] took me years to seek help for #mentalhealth problems, only did because friends online told me to and told me how #TalkOut

And what could be done to help others:

“Social Media not only helps by providing a platform for awareness & support accounts but also for ppl to talk to each other/friends #TalkOut

“I think if schools had a forum for students to discuss MH it would benefit pupils 🙂 #TalkOut

In my experience somehow utilising social media to help pupils would be great, I know it would have helped me enormously #TalkOut

You can read more comments from #TalkOut here at Storify:

http://storify.com/Time4Recovery/first-talkout-tweet-up-asks-does-social-media-help?utm_campaign=&awesm=sfy.co_h03g&utm_source=t.co&utm_content=storify-pingback&utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter

Overall we had some amazing, insightful and even inspirational conversations around the internet, social media and recovery and made some new friends along the way.

“Perhaps now’s the time to change this. A community is louder than 1 advocate, more resounding as one united voice #TalkOut

In the future we are hoping to hold bi-weekly Talk Outs on Thursday and Saturday evenings, please follow us at @vikproject or me directly at @KittyCormack and remember to look out for and use the #TalkOut hashtag.