With most things in life, there are pros and cons. Oftentimes, people are left weighing between the benefits and the costs. For most, if the benefits outweigh the costs, then they move towards that particular decision. Online chatrooms are no different than most other situations. There can be definite benefits for engaging in online chatrooms for depression. However, there can also be some issues that could result in some serious problems. When utilizing any resources it is important to have awareness of both the benefits and potential problems that can occur. If you maintain awareness, then you can make sure the resource provides you the benefits you need while hopefully avoiding the potential problems.
Chatrooms can provide a safe space for people to open up that might not otherwise. Some people feel more comfortable behind a screen than talking to someone in person. The online world can be more cost effective and limitless in some cases. Chatrooms can provide affordable ways for someone to confront their symptoms of depression. One of the great things about the online world is the sharing of ideas. Someone utilizing chatrooms for depression can talk to others who might provide helpful insight in how they manage their own symptoms. It can also be a great place for empathy and validation. It can help to know that there are many others who can relate to your experiences. It can give you a place where your struggles can feel heard and accepted. It can give a sense of community to people who tend to struggle with the desire to isolate due to depression.
With all the benefits of chatrooms listed above, there can be potential problems. It is important what kind of chatroom is chosen. Peer chatrooms are great. For example, sometimes teens do not want to talk to adults because they feel their peer gets them in a way they feel an adult might not. However, it is beneficial when chatrooms have a trained individual to monitor the conversations. Depression often includes feelings of hopelessness which in turn can lead to suicidal thoughts. It is important to have someone present in the chatroom who knows what to do if someone is expressing they are suicidal. It can also help to have someone who can mediate at times. When a group of people get together, empathy and validation are vital. However, if the conversation stays solely on how depressed people feel, it can potentially feed into a person’s depression, potentially creating a negative cycle. Chatrooms can be a great place to share tools and resources, so it can be helpful to have someone facilitate some of those conversations in order to maintain a healthy balance.
In reality, the potential problems can be avoidable. As with any resource, tool, or treatment plan, it is important for you to search for good quality. There are wonderful online resources for mental health like counseling, chatrooms, articles, blogs, etc. The internet provides people more resources than ever before. However, it is important to make sure you look for high quality resources and that includes chatrooms. Depression can range from mild to severe. At its most severe, depression can risk someone’s life. That is why it is important to be picky in terms of treatment and that includes online resources. If you make sure you find a chatroom of quality, you will have the opportunity to avoid the potential problems and reap the benefits of it helping you with depression.
Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.