How You Should Talk To Strangers Online About Your Mental Health
As the Internet has become an integrated necessity in many people's lives, it has made the world feel smaller. You can instantly speak with people from anywhere in the world. This has made socially connecting with others much easier, whether it is with friends, families, or strangers. The Internet has also made it much easier to find help for those seeking to improve their mental health. However, much of the information online is not verified and not everyone is certified to help others. Given this, there are ways you should and should not talk to strangers online about your mental health.
Tips on How to Talk to Strangers Online
The Internet is full of suggestions on ways to improve your mental health. Some of these sound like catchy magazine headlines, like "50 ways to feel less depressed" or " 100 ways to improve your mental health." Many of these articles are either written by companies trying to sell you a product (usually a quick fix) or are written by uncertified individuals. This is not to say the information is necessarily wrong, but wouldn't you want to learn how to improve your mental health from someone who knows what they're talking about? Just like with information searches, when talking about your mental health with someone, you should ensure they are the following:
- They Are Credible: What certifications do they have? Do they hold a professional degree? Do they have experience speaking with others? Speaking with a stranger online who doesn't fully understand how to help you improve your mental health can do more harm than good. They may give you advice that is misguided. Make sure you understand the stranger's credentials, and aim to seek the help of a certified therapist.
- They Put You First: Some people find that speaking with friends or family is the best way to gain the benefits of improving their mental health. However, many people find that their friends and family are too busy to engage in long-term therapy-like sessions, and they are not truly certified to help. A certified stranger's (or therapist's) job is to completely focus on their clients and put you first.
- They Protect Your Identity: Although you may not care if someone knows who you are online, a certified online therapist will always protect your identity if you want them to. Through some online channels, you have the options of being completely anonymous where the person you are speaking with doesn't even know who you are. There is always the possibility that an uncertified stranger will abuse your information for his or her own personal gain.
Who Should I Speak To?
Knowing that there are some dangers in speaking to just anyone online about your mental health, it is important to carefully choose who you speak to. Going through traditional chat rooms or social media channels will usually not give you a certified individual to speak to. However, there are now several websites online that are specifically designed to provide individuals an opportunity to speak with qualified mental health counselors. Sites like these allow you to speak confidentially about anything on your mind with someone who will protect your identity, will put you first, and who is qualified to give you guidance. And the best part? You can start speaking to any number of qualified counselors online as soon as you are ready.