There are many forums and services where you can chat with strangers about your mental health. Some of them include Better Help, Online therapy, Bliss, Him and Hers, Post-Partum support international, and your National Mental health call services.
The internet has become a necessity in the lives of the billions who have access to the internet, this has made communication easier for the users including those who are seeking help to improve their mental health.
Services that provide mental health support online have allowed for anonymity to many who are seeking to improve their mental health. In this guide, we are going to discuss the services that provide anonymous online mental health support sevices and how to protect ourselves better when using these services.
Pros of E-Therapy: Why you should consider it
Not every individual has the privilege of going out there and seeking help for themselves. There are some who are bound by cultural stigma, while others are physically held back, while others may find meeting new people extremely fear invoking.
If you find yourself unable to meet a professional face to face, let me start by saying that you are not alone. There are many individuals who are struggling with the same problem of stepping out and looking for help.
Let us take a moment to understand why you should consider online support:
- It is effective
Research has shown that teletherapy which allows you to chat with strangers who are professional therapists can be as effective as in-person sessions in treating various mental health issues.
- It allows for anonymity
Online Mental health services are used by many individuals who want to protect their identity. Users of such services use them specifically because they feel safer behind a screen and chat rooms with professional therapists allow that.
You can even pay the therapist without insurance and privately which allows for better anonymity.
- No Fear of judgment
Because these services are anonymous, and you are technically chatting to a stranger the fear of judgment- about your lifestyle, appearance, mental health issues dissapates.
- Empowers you to choose
Online therapy is often in the favor of the client because though the client can identify and read up about their therapist online, the therapist is left in the dark except for the things the client may disclose.
This freedom can empower you to choose how much you want to share and what aspects you want to keep private. The service also allows you to log out or turn off the call whenever you want without fear of any repercussions.
- Physically protected
In every sense of the word, you are free to do the session in the safety and privacy of your own home/room. You are not required to leave your comfortable space. This can be extremely comforting if you are fearful of stepping out or meeting strangers
- It is accessible
If you live in a remote place where there are no mental health services or if you are limited physically or mentally which makes moving around difficult, mental health chat services where you can speak to a stranger who is a professional therapist could be the best option for you.
Best E-mental health services that allow you to chat with strangers
This is an US based resource for online chat therapy. You it allows for anonymity where you can take advantage of a free three day trial with licenced therapists that are specialized in various mental health issues. They provide chat services that allows you to protect you identity.
This service is a therapy chat service with professionals or other anonymous individuals that provide peer support. They can be likened to a 24/7 support group which can allow you to chat with strangers about your mental health issues.
This is a brother and sister company where Hims provide telehealth services which helps men’s with mental health conditions as well as physical health issues.
While Hers focuses on women’s health. These services offer free online group therapy to those who sign up for their anonymous support groups.
It is a voluntary service which allows listeners to provide chat support all over the world. These strangers are peer support systems to help you chat about your mental health issues through meaningful conversations.
If you find it uncomfortable to seek out help in various services online for various personal reasons or you want to speak to strangers who are closer to you so as to overcome cultural barriers, or just to feel a little bit safer here are some options you could consider.
However, these will require you to seek out resources and services that are closer to you, meaning that you will have to do some research to find some services that are easier to access within your own space.
- Online forums:
Strangers can join online forums and share their experiences with others throught chat rooms. There are many forums for people who have shared the same experience.
However, There may be no trained therapists in these forums but you can find support and understanding from these strangers who may also provide support in mental health issues.
It will be better if you are able to connect in forums that are closer to you, from your own culture if that is something you seek.
- Support groups:
People can join support groups that specialize in specific problems or conditions. These groups often bring together strangers who are in need of help. Traditionally these support groups are in person however, as of recent world events they have moved online.
Seeking them out through your community centers or social media platforms could be an option for you to consider.
Safety when chatting to strangers about your mental health
When it comes to chatting with strangers online about your mental health, there are many issues that need to be considered so that you can protect yourself effectively.
The disadvantages when it comes to telemental health services is that there may be issues with ethicality and licensing of the professional who is supposed to be helping you out.
There also may be issues related to the lack of body language when it is chat based which can lead to miscommunications and you may feel unsupported and misunderstood.
There may also be issues related to internet security due to unreliability of certain platforms. Such services also render the professional unable to respond to you during times of crisis since they do not know who you are or where you live.
Connecting with medical support if needed is not possible, so in case you have been showing serious symptoms of mental health issues your online support might suggest seeking out in person support to a service closer to you, which is suggested by most ethical professionals.
Here are some things to pay attention to if you want to be safe when chatting with strangers about your mental health
A credible online therapy service that allows you to speak with a professional should have the details about their professionals on their site with links for further cross checking- such as links to the professionals place of work.
It is very important that you check out their credibility by looking into these information and perhaps even check the reviews left by other clients.
Chatting with a stranger online who doesn’t fully understand how to help you improve your mental health can do more harm than good.
- Professional guidelines
Pay attention to whether the service providers or the stranger you are talking to is adhering to the five principles of ethical counselling that most mental health professionals stick to.
They should focus on you and stick to the ethical principals. If they aren’t and you feel unsafe, it is best to withdraw from these services.
- Protects your Identity
A certified online therapist or a stranger who is serious about helping you with improving your mental health will always seek to protect your identity if you want them to.
Some online platforms give you the option of being completely anonymous where the person you are chatting with has no idea of who you are. These goodwill individuals should not try to pry information that you are not willing to share.
- Get familiar with the technology used
If it is an independent app, make sure you understand how the app works and what are the policies surrounding the use of it. If it is a forum, make sure you understand the rules and guides of the forum.
If you want to take it a step further, you can opt to use VPN services to protect your IP addresses.
- Trust your gut
The moment you feel something is off with the stranger you are talking to, choose to withdraw. A person who is ethical will not blur the lines between providing the help you seek and other interests.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe inspite of what they may be telling you, it is best if you stop the correspondence and seek out help elsewhere.
Though there has been some that attests to the efficacy of talking to strangers online for mental health support, you have to remember that e-therapy or chatting to strangers through websites or forums is not a replacement for seeking out proper treatment.
If you find your mental health situation sever, to the point where you are unable to meet the demands of your daily life and are unable to take care of yourself physically and socially it may be time to seek out serious intervention.
If seeking out a professional close to you and in person can start by talking about it to a trusted friend or family- even if it is through a phone call or chat.
Letting them know how you are dealing with challenges with your mental health can be safer and more beneficial before taking the next step towards your journey to heal and manage your mental health.
Frequently asked questions related to “How can I chat with strangers about my mental health?
Can I do therapy anonymously?
Yes, some practitioners understand the stigma behind mental health issues and offer services that can protect your identity be it online or in person. You can start by understanding the policies of a mental health service and decide for yourself which service is best suited for you.
Can I talk to a psychologist online for free?
You can opt for free online therapy options through services that provide sessions individuals, couples and groups. Though some services and professional do pro-bono work, there maybe a limit to their services.
They may start with two sessions that are free followed by paid services with the option to choose the amount on a sliding scale.
What do I do if I can’t afford therapy?
- First, check your insurance and if it covers mental health services.
- Ask the service provider about sliding scale options or discounted rates. Being open about your financial situation with your therapist can help both of you come to a point where both your needs are met.
- Consider community mental health centers that provide pro-bono sessions.
Can I heal without therapy?
Though it is not a stand in for actual therapy, applying self directed techniques can be helpful in reducing symptoms related to your mental health, even improving it. There are multiple options for example, Cognitive Behavioural therapy techniques through self help books or through online instructors can be helpful.
Can I get therapy for free?
Various community orgnaizations often have peer- support groups that free, so seeking out these organizations within your community can help. Other places of counselling can be in hospitals, places of worship, and schools. However, these places do not have certified and trained professionals who can provide psychotherapy services but they can offer counselling and emotional support for free.