Mental health community online is great! Or... not so much? As to everything in life there are pros and cons to striving to become a member of a MH community (just like any other community really) online. Among pros there is a chance to find someone we can relate to, so we could feel less alone; to receive more useful information about our disorder and much-needed encouragement and support. But sometimes it's not so bright. I am going to talk about cons of MH community in this post, so if you are interested, please follow me.
Friendship you have to pay for
Even though I honestly believe most mental health community members mean well and genuinely want to help other people who suffer from mental illnesses, nobody denies the fact that we all need money to live. And today I can see people often sacrifice even their values for money...
Many times, you would be offered support and even friendship wrapped in the "offer" that is hard to decline. People say they are ready to help you deal with your anxiety or depression, to offer "one-on-one" support, to literally be your friend, because they care, however YOU better be ready to pay for all of this. Am I the only one who finds this problematic?
It would be ok, if these people had a proper education and experience to help you (like a degree in psychology, for example), but the truth is: THEY DON'T. You might not find anything wrong with people expecting to be paid for their services, but I just call it as it is - selling friendship. I want you to see it as it is as well and only then make your decision.
People who are not therapists offer you "professional(?) help"
It is not much different from my first point, but it's important to talk about separately. Most people in MH community have nothing to do with psychology or medicine, yet they claim that they can help you. If you decide to purchase their services, pray you won't get worse!
Imagine you have a stomach pain. Would you go to the person who has pain as well or had it at some point of their lives and now says they can help you treat your condition? Eh, I think it's a bad example, as people do fall for all kinds of anecdotes all the time. But you get the point!
Please remember, that mental illness is a serious condition, it's not just stress. If you think that you have it, please sick professional help. Don't pay for friendship or unprofessional advice, unless... you want to pay for friendship or unprofessional advice.
The truth is that even something worked for them in their recovery, it won't necessarily help you. I know it can be hard to find a good professional in mental health field, and sometimes we become desperate. But there are many useful souces of information that you can use to educare yourself while you are searching. In fact you can learn the same things as these people offering you help claim to know, absolutely for free.
Toxic positivity and pseudoscience
One of the reasons why many of people in MH community are against medication is because they can't prescribe you one.
I don't think that medication is a cure-all and many times it can have its side effects, but often it can be one of the best ways to help you get out of the downward spiral. In fact, nobody says you should take medication without some "inner work". Therapy sessions can be extremely helpful as well. But they do cost a lot of money, not each one of us can afford them, so we fall for fake professionals who "helped many people" online. But like I said, it can be more dangerous than helpful, if your condition is serious.
And if it's not, you can always try to find a free friend or someone to talk to whether it's online or in real life. In the end, even if you choose to pay those who you think can help in you in your journey, I want you to have realistic expectations. No judgement, I just want you to be aware.
"Natural cure", "Holistic medicine", "Inner work", etc. are all great terms, but there is no guarantee that all those things will help YOU in your unique case, especially when you are implementing them under the supervision of someone who doesn't have enough knowledge, but most certainly has a desire to make "helping others" their full-time well-paid job. Well, having a desire isn't enough, when it comes down to human's life. My greatest concern is that people will fail at seeing how dangerous this market may be for their health, mental and physical, as well as for their relationship with people (I can't believe it becomes "a thing" that in order to receive encouragement and support, we need to pay...).
With this being said, are mental health communities evil? No, like I said in the beginning it can be very helpful in our journey to recovery, if we follow and communicate with the "right people", as not everyone is the same. But we should definitely be careful and more mindful to recognize other people's intentions.