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Collection of Online Peer Support Resources

How to find online peer support resources that are truly recovery oriented

Recently I explained the difference between the distress model and the disease model of mental illness. This is the idea that many people have emotional suffering that comes from normal life situations. I think it’s important to watch our terminology in our online peer support resources. We often talk about the medical model vs. the recovery model. But this seems to say that recovery is in opposition to science, which is not true. Also, people like medicine.  But when we talk about distress model vs disease model, we tie into the fact that no one likes disease.  We acknowledge that emotional distress may come from temporary sources like a poor job fit, grief, lack of social connection, problematic relationships, lack of connection with our creator, or poor self-care practices. This gives many people hope for true recovery, because life situations are much more changeable than genetics.  There are tons of people who share online peer support resources that are solutions to these problems.

For me, I found my way out using online peer support resources, learning good self-care, getting off medications, building a great job, learning about my trauma experiences, and making friends in the local community. It’s also important to know that medications help some people, and if they help you, stay on them.

Online peer support resources with a different view of emotional distress:

Corinna West sharing the need for online peer support resources with Robert Whitaker and Pyschiatrist Barbie at the SAMHSA Pharmacology Dialogue

Corinna West sharing the need for online peer support resources with Robert Whitaker and Pyschiatrist Barbie at the SAMHSA Pharmacology Dialogue

  • Mad In America   This is from Robert Whitaker, the author of Anatomy of An Epidemic, the book getting the most media attention about the problems with psych meds. His blog includes online peer support resources from several people who have completely recovered as well as a blog from Mark Foster, a primary care doctor who described his journey and his pressures to sell illness.
  • Robert Whitaker’s Psychology Today blog
  • Mind Freedom This is the indpendent mental health advocacy movement that doesn’t take funding from any government or pharmaceutical sources.  They are currently running several campaigns like Boycott Normal and Occupy Psychiatry to bring attention to the issues and share many online peer support resources.
  • Psych Rights - a great collection of mental health research information with links to many scientific articles.
  • 1boringoldman - a retired psychiatrist brings in loads of documentation and witty insights about the entanglement of the psychiatric industry and pharma. Great first hand source work.
  • The Carlat Psychiatry Report - a psychiatrist who writes about pharmaceutical influence and the marketing practices of companies. Tries to disentangle marketing spin to show true medication effectiveness.
  • UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress Facebook Group - A community of 145 people (currently) that I moderate. We go over both sides of many medication debates with consideration from lots of viewpoints and lots of references to online peer support resources.
  • Undiagnosing Twitter Feed – Over 130 people who have identified as survivors of the psychiatric system, peer support 140 characters at a time.  Many of them have blogs with very helpful tools. Twitter is very simple and quick to use and extremely useful. I’d recommend it for any advocate, artist, or entrepreneur.

Online peer support resources that teach self-care and self support strategies:

Jazz Poetry Jams Kansas City

Glenn North and Natasha Ria El-Scari sharing a moment at Jazz Poetry Jams in Kansas City. Many poets say poetry is the thing that helps them get through adversity.

Many people have developed excellent tools for managing stress and reducing emotional suffering. For many people, managing “mental illness” is simply learning to handle stress through very well planned and disciplined self-care. For instance, I’ve found I need good sleep, exercise almost every single day, friends and hobbies, meaningful work, and to take time to process my trauma experiences when they get reactivated.

  • Chrono Record - A mood charting software that also includes data gathering on medication use, mood, menstrual cycles for women. Very effective tool for talking to doctors about building self-care and making plans for medication changes.
  • Heartland Consumer Network - Please join the Missouri statement advocacy network to help us promote true mental health recovery in our state. Free membership.
  • National Center for Trauma Informed Care - Almost all studies done on trauma show a very high correlation between mental health diagnoses and trauma. This site give some tools for handling any kind of past trauma experience.
  • National Empowerment Center - The national group of mental health civil rights advocates. Links to online peer support resources in every single state.
  • Pat Deegan - shares many concepts like Personal Medicine, the idea that people need to find what helps them feel good and why people want to be well. She talks about writing a Power Statement which is what you are not willing to trade off during medication management. She has many tools available for talking control of the agenda during a doctor visit.
  • Spiritual Emercency Network - If your emotional crisis comes from a rift in your relationship with your creator (as mine did, among other things), this site offers very good tools for handling it.
  • Proactive Planning - Online peer support resources from my good friend, Susan Kingley Smith, in Iowa. Her point is that we can’t just randomly make long term decisions. We may have to advocate very proactively to gain independence.
  • Recovery from “schizophrenia” – Ron Unger from Oregon’s blog with very detailed information about how to get through difficulties and why psychosis may be a coping mechanism. He says we need to think of complete recovery and not just “doing OK while still having an illness.”
  • Beyond Meds – tips and suggestions for medication withdrawal, discussion of issue with diagnosis and labeling.
  • The Icarus Project – Awesome reprintable books, posters, and pamphlets including the classic Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psych Meds
  • WRAP – A planning system to deal with problems before they occur, developed by Mary Ellen Copeland. Tons of tools on her website.
  • Certified Peer Specialists – National Facebook Page for peer specialists to exchange information with each other.
  • NAMI Massachusetts has their own list of online peer support resources

I am going to redesign my web page links so it’s a whole page instead of just a column to the right. Do you want a permanent link on my site?

What are your favorite online peer support resources? What should I add to this list?

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