Mental Health in the UK started in July 1998. I remember tentatively thinking about practising some web skills I’d been learning at home while I was recovering from severe mental health issues. We’d not long gone online with our 28.8 Dial-up connection; very slow by today’s standards. It actually wasn’t too bad, as not only where there very few websites around, they were very basic in their design so didn’t take as long to load.
We could only afford to be online at the weekend cheap rate, so I’d spend about 4 or 5 hours just tinkering about on a Saturday. Some of this involved my website, but I also made friends, chatted online and helped moderate a depression forum. As time went by my connections and networks started to expand. My website building knowledge increased and website design improved meaning I could add more to the site. We ended up on Broadband and a 24/7 connection.
I added a forum with the online friends I’d made helping to moderate. Twice weekly chats started up, again my online friends helped out. People started to submit poetry, stories, artwork, photos etc. I started to make awareness bracelets and had some custom-made key rings and pens made.
Along came Social Media and that was integrated too. As things got busier for me and UK mental health charity websites started to pop up with forums of their own, I realised that I couldn’t manage my forum anymore, so I moved it over the Facebook. There are supporters and friends of MHUK who have been there from the very beginning and it’s nice for them to have a place to go where they feel safe. (It’s a private, hidden place).
I am still very busy and I don’t always have the same amount of time that I used to do dedicate to the site, but I add and improve features when I get time. I do very much keep the Social Media side up-to-date though as it’s easier to manage via tablets/phones and apps.
MHUK has been instrumental in my recovery and I owe a huge amount to the focus that it’s given to me. The focus has meant more knowledge, better understanding, volunteering and employment opportunities, being featured in magazines, networking with like-minded people etc.
It really has been a life saver…..