In­ter­est in on­line men­tal health por­tal wide­spread

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - HEATHER RIVERS - The Lon­don Free Press

It’s de­signed to re­duce iso­la­tion for those with men­tal health is­sues and im­prove both their cop­ing skills and emo­tional health.

Here’s an in­tro­duc­tion to the one of the Lon­don re­gion’s new­est around-the-clock men­tal health ini­tia­tives.

“Big White Wall is an on­line por­tal for in­di­vid­u­als 16 to 34 with de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety-type is­sues, but there are also a mul­ti­tude of other men­tal health sup­ports,” said Paul Gill, clin­i­cal dig­i­tal lead with the South West Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­work (LHIN).

“In the last decade, men­tal health visits to emer­gency rooms have jumped sig­nif­i­cantly, as have hos­pi­tal­iza­tions for de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and eat­ing dis­or­ders. More work needs to be done to in­ter­vene be­fore peo­ple end up in the ER in cri­sis.”

In­tro­duced to the area in June, the Big White has at­tracted hun­dreds of reg­is­tra­tions. Peo­ple be­tween the ages of 24 and 34 are the big­gest users, Gill said.

“It’s very sim­i­lar to Face­book, but it’s com­pletely anony­mous,” he said. “You can post how you are feel­ing or what you are go­ing through.”

Gill said one of the big­gest el­e­ments of the Big White Wall is cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity.

“You go on­line and you see there are 30 other peo­ple post­ing who are go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar,” he said. “You im­me­di­ately start to feel less iso­lated.”

He hopes more peo­ple will ac­cess the new tech­nol­ogy that is a part­ner­ship with New Zealand and the U.K.

“Stud­ies have shown that young peo­ple are ea­ger to adopt tech­nol­ogy to man­age their own health, and the ini­tial re­sults for Big White Wall bear this out,” Gill said. “We are en­cour­aged by the rel­a­tively broad par­tic­i­pa­tion in Big White Wall.”

Other parts of the wall in­clude self-help mod­ules grounded in cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy.

“It al­lows in­di­vid­u­als to re­flect on their mood and try to fig­ure out what their trig­gers are that kept them there and what the trig­gers might be to help them get out of dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions,” Gill said. “These mod­ules, we are see­ing, have high uti­liza­tion.”

In­ter­est is high­est in cour­ses en­ti­tled man­age stress and anx­i­ety, man­age your de­pres­sion and eat healthy and lose weight.

“We in­vite ev­ery­one to share and talk about Big White Wall,” Gill said.

Res­i­dents of the South West LHIN can ac­cess two free self­help psy­chother­apy ser­vices Big White Wall and Bounce Back.

Any­one can ac­cess www.big­white­wall.ca

Bounce­Back, which can be ac­cessed through a physi­cian, is a tele­phone coach­ing pro­gram grounded in cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy.

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