So the other day I was having a really bad day. This wasn’t anything unusual, but I really wanted to talk to someone at that moment. My boyfriend and my friends were all busy, so I thought I would give a mental health instant messaging service a go.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never done this sort of thing before – I’ve also never had a telephone conversation through a crisis line either, so this was a whole new experience for me. First of all, I was surprised how difficult it was to find that sort of service on google! Maybe I was just typing in the wrong things, but I had to do a fair bit of searching before I could get through to anything that I didn’t have to pay for. (I’ve since done a bit more research and found some more, but when I was a bit panicky I didn’t have such a clear head.) It maybe was because I wanted quite a specific service: I wasn’t feeling suicidal, so I didn’t want to use the services that specifically targeted people in extreme crisis. I just wanted someone to chat to!
I must be a terrible mental health blogger, but I can’t honestly remember the name of what IM service I finally went for. My guard immediately went up because it required my full name. (At the time I didn’t think to make up a name.) It then quickly came to my attention that this was not a real person, but an automated reply system. I do think that it was looked over by a real person, because some of the replies were written differently (not proper capitalisation in some places but others it would be perfect). I realise that there are a lack of volunteers or employees doing this sort of thing, but…yeah, no. Any sense of trust I had was immediately lost. Finally, to round things up, it asked me my location. This was because it wanted to refer me to a specific branch of MIND, but I noped out of there pretty damn fast after that. Needless to say, this was not the experience that I had hoped for.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t try an instant messaging service again. I’ve been referred to a couple of different websites, including The Mix. This was recommended to me by my local Mind branch, along with other services such as The Big White Wall and Moodjuice. I’m thinking about trying out these services and seeing what I think of them, if you’d be interested in hearing about that!
All in all – I was not impressed. The next time I want to try this sort of thing, I think I will use one of the websites I’ve linked, or call someone. If you’ve had any experiences with this sort of thing, please let me know! I can imagine some people have been helped immensely by these sorts of services – I just managed to find a pretty crap one.