Sometimes there’s comfort in anonymity. Despite living in an era where people readily broadcast their innermost thoughts, not everyone finds it easy to speak up, and that can especially be the case for some people who live with mental health issues.
While it’s important to actively seek professional help, you can take baby steps by reaching out to confidential resources. Though no one should ever feel ashamed to take care of their mental health, seeking totally anonymous help can be an easy start for those who prefer to keep things private.
Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, take some time to learn about these four different types of sites, apps and hotlines to get you the anonymous help you, or a friend, may need.
There are a vast number of anonymous hotlines that cater to various types of calls, from suicidal thoughts to dealing with abuse. Women’s Health, an organization run by the U.S. government, has aggregated a number of them on its site, such as:
2. Chat rooms
If you don’t like the idea of going to meetings in person, head to them online. Members of organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous conduct e-meetings, so help is always one click away.
Lifeline Crisis Chat is an online organization that focuses on hosting immediately available chatrooms for anyone “who is depressed, despairing, going through a hard time [or] just needs to talk.” Available from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., it connects users with trained specialists. It does ask for a bit of personal information, such as your name (which you can make up) and age (so the organization can know the age range of visitors). It may also request your phone number, which won’t be shared, but is needed if you lose your chat connection or your life appears to be in imminent danger.
Healthful Chat hosts a variety of topical chat rooms, such as eating disorders, various addictions, bereavement and grief, and more. It promotes interaction with others who have had similar experiences, rather than pairing you up with a professional. It also makes book suggestions based on the chat room you select.
Blah Therapy has multiple offers. You can chat anonymously with strangers who just want to listen — there’s a choice on the chat to either be a “venter” or a “listener.” You can chat anonymously with a professional therapist for $25. Then there’s an interactive community, where users create forums and posts, and encourage others to pose questions and seek answers.
3. Online communities
All over the web you can find groups of people connecting and anonymously sharing their stories via sites such as Reddit and Tumblr. These sites offer anonymity and a free blogging atmosphere, where you can share your thoughts with like-minded folks.
Subreddits include threads for Alcoholics Anonymous, eating disorders, depression and more. An added benefit of these communities is that people constantly share their own stories and links to resources that could help you in your own personal journey. In addition, each thread has a moderator, so if you’re in serious need of professional guidance, there will be someone to point you in the right direction.
Tumblr accounts like Here We Will Hope, which helps users combat depression, and Establishing a New Normal are comprised of motivational posts and personal stories. These blogs also have “Ask” features, where you can anonymously ask questions and reach out to users who may be able to help.
To find the one that fits your need, search for hashtags #mentalhealthmatters, which will pull up numerous blogs about mental health.
If you have a burden weighing you down and just need a quick way to dispel it to the universe, consider downloading an app. However, most of them are for simply sharing secrets, rather than seeking professional help, so keep that in mind (though sometimes, after exchanging secrets for so long, users of these apps hatch plans to meet up with people in real life).
Secret: This app connects you to people in your phone’s contacts who also use Secret. You post your “secret,” which can be liked and shared by other anonymous users. The app doesn’t share out your secret until you have at least three friends, so people can’t easily figure out your identity.
Whisper: Like the name suggests, Whisper is for those little secrets you almost want to keep to yourself. You can share what’s on your mind in a quick post on the app, which anonymously connects you to its millions of users. It’s a social network for the antisocial, and can be a cathartic means to express yourself (but remember, it’s not to be substituted for professional help).