peer support through skype rallying the skype peer support Initiative

Hey everyone,

First of all thank you theresa for writing back!!

So I have something really exciting to talk about. With all the forums facebook groups ETC out there, it would only make sense that there be a community where people who need peer support around mental health issues can come and talk with those who have been there and can offer a listening ear and support. These people reaching out may not have access to other forms of support in person, may not want to call a helpline ETC. Skype has grown in such popularity that it makes sense to me to have this venue.

When researching I found this blog post.

I was beyond happy and excited to see someone had started up something that I was so interested in creating. Sadly the original poster in late 2014 had moved into an area without good internet access. So he no longer seemed part of the project.

Unphaised I simply started going down the list of bloggers who had agreed to support him.

Sadly many of those blogs hadn’t been updated since 2014 and so I wasn’t sure if these people were still envolved.

I did write one or two people who had somewhat up to date blogs.

Just now theresa.reed15 responded. See comment under my last post.

I’m so happy to be able to connect with her and hopefully restart this rewarding project.

The objective as I see it, and as I believe the original poster envisioned it, is that there would be a large community of people all with experiences of some kind of mental illness from ideally all over the world. With different backgrounds (I.E, races, sexual orientations, disabilities ETC) willing to take whatever ttime they can to be on skype and willing to text chat or voice chat with people who need it. The volunteers could be there for general support or have specific issues that they feel most able to talk with others about. For example I feel I’d be best able to discuss depression, anxiety, self injury, and trauma, though mostly the effects of emotional abuse over other forms of abuse. I’d be comfortable discussing friendships and family relationships but would not feel best equipped to discuss romantic relationships or sexual issues. Though I’d be happy to listen on these topics I couldn’t bring my own experience to bear on them.

While others perhaps could discuss OCD, eating disorders, job stress ETC. So there would be something for everyone.

Though there would be no set commitment hopefully with a lot of volunteers someone would be available at least a good amount of the time. There’s a lot to consider in terms of safety for everyone envolved as well as ground rules. The original poster said that people could use their individual skype accounts and from what Theressa said that is what she does. I feel this leaves volunteers open to personal harassment or other negative issues from people reaching out for help who might be unstable and want to test the boundaries and patience of those volunteering. I’m wondering if there’s a way to create one account on skype specifically for this purpose and have the different volunteers sign on that way it takes the personal private skype accounts out of things. Then again I’m not sure this is possible and perhaps that’s why things were done this way in the first place.

I think that those who are really in crisis, suicidal acting aggressively ETC should be told firmly but compassionately that this is beyond what we can handle and we’re signing off, after of course giving them a resources such as a suicide hotline reminder to contact in person support ETC. We shouldn’t feel asked to handle or bullied to handle things that make us uncomfortable. I think if a person contacts you and is clear they want to get sexual or use the system for things other than mental health peer listening again they should be kindly told to go elsewhere. I think basically as a group of us we should discuss what we can’t and can handle and ways to keep ourselves and others safe. I think there would need to be frequent meetings, at least weekly or perhaps more at first of the volunteers themselves, whethr skype e-mail ETC to discuss these issues.

I’m trying to think of other ground rules but am blanking out. Oh also maybe making it clear to people the boundaries around time with each individual. As in they get a set amount of time per day like say a halof hour or something but this is not an all day affair. I would worry about people overusing the service due to being clingy/ needing more than we could provide. Perhaps as a group we’d discuss this and reach an agreement perhaps something that each member feels good about.

On the positive side if this takes off I can see lots of benefits. Like eting to work with all sorts of great people passionate about helping others through hard times they’ve struggled with. Also being able to connect with different people from all over that we otherwise might not be able to. I picture it being able to fill a lot of different needs. Such as having volunteers able to speak certain languages so people where English isn’t their native language would have access to support without having to worry about the language barrier. Also those who are deaf or hard of hearing could use the service through text chat. And if we got others who knew sign they could communicate live on skype which I’m sure would be very empowering to those needing support but who don’t have anyone that can sign to them for that process. As it got going I could also imagine weekly support groups on various topics. Like for example an eating disorder support group, group for those with DID, depression and bipolar support, ETC. Some groups could be structured and have different readings/ exercises to discuss. Others can be more open just to talk and give support.

So I’m very very passionat about getting this going and getting as many on board as possible. If you have even a little interest please comment here preferable with an e-mail address so we can talk privately. We could even set up an e-mail list such on for the specific purpose of communicating about this project.

I look forward to hopefully lots of people to work with on this. It’s not a one person job but I think as a group we can pull it off.

My e-mail is: nelsonsam68

Check out my blog

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