Our founder was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder over 15 years ago. Her spouse has supported her through extreme ups and downs. ForLikeMinds is born out of our personal recovery experience. It is dedicated to the recovery and wellness of people affected by mental illness, substance use, or stressful life events.
An astounding 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness every year, and millions more are impacted by it in the United States alone. We know that overcoming stigma is a key first step towards mental health recovery and wellness. The light of hope illuminates the path away from the shadows of stigma towards recovery.
ForLikeMinds empowers members to connect and communicate one-on-one and in groups to support, inform, and inspire each other’s recovery journey. This journey starts with hope and is nourished by the support of like minds sharing their lived experience. We would like to use this inaugural newsletter to introduce ForLikeMinds.
Awareness is improving but we’re only starting to address unmet needs
Mental health awareness is increasing, which is very positive. This evolution is evidenced by the proliferation of apps and web-based services focused on mental health in recent years. These offerings vary in scope, target market, and functionality. We have only scratched the surface of potential benefits to mental health perceptions, treatment, and management from improved education and delivery tools.
ForLikeMinds seeks to address these yet unmet needs and untapped potential. We are different from existing online mental health tools in many important ways. Our approach is innovative and highly attuned to the experiences and needs of those affected by conditions and stressful events. It is rooted in our unique appreciation for the power of shared experience.
Focus on mental health conditions
Several websites allow users to connect with people across all types of medical conditions. We think mental health should have its own community platform given its medical and personal complexities and the sheer magnitude of people who experience a mental health issue every year. We think addressing mental health requires unique insight and functionalities. We are the only online community with a recovery- and wellness-oriented mission for people with a mental health or substance use condition.
Stigma is a stifling and heavy weight for people affected by mental health issues. At ForLikeMinds, you connect anonymously with relatable micro-communities of others like you, overcoming the fear and paralysis wrought by stigma. The process is intuitive and user-friendly. The platform offers many tools to control your experience on the site, particularly the quality and relevance of connections you make.
We recognize that mental health conditions often co-occur with substance use issues. The relationship between mental health and substance use conditions is particularly strong. ForLikeMinds is the only online mental health platform for those affected by either or both types of conditions.
We also recognize that so many stressful life events impact and trigger conditions. In many cases, you cannot separate discussing mental health issues from certain events and experiences. Comorbidity is also very common as many people with mental health or substance use issues also have or develop chronic health conditions. Engaging with others that have had similar experiences can be valuable in addressing mental health. ForLikeMinds facilitates connections based on a wide array of stressful life events and chronic health conditions that are often interconnected with mental illness and substance use.
A place for supporters too
We are the first dedicated mental health platform to serve interests of both people living with or supporting someone with a condition. No other online destination is tailored specifically to the needs of supporters. We embrace and acknowledge the important role supporters play in the recovery and well-being of their loved ones. We allow supporters to find and engage with other supporters to also realize benefits of peer-based support.
Focus on shared lived experience with people who can relate
Our founder is a rare example of a mental health entrepreneur who is actually living with a diagnosed mental health condition. When she started taking ownership of her condition, she researched alternative approaches to managing mental health. She found and immersed herself in peer support. This is a kind of grassroots approach to managing mental health. Sharing experiences and learning from others with like experiences can be very instructive, supportive, and inspirational. She concluded that peer support had tremendous untapped potential to help so many people beyond her.
You are not defined by a mental health condition. We recognize that mental health needs to be viewed and approached in the context of your personal background. Our unique circumstances impact illness onset, treatment, management, and recovery. Our mental health naturally impacts who we are and our relationships. Unlike other offerings, our approach focuses on addressing individual mental health needs through individual and group connections and engagement.
Member control and flexibility
ForLikeMinds is a platform for and by its members. We focus on acceptance and inclusion and recognize that different communities have unique mental health needs. When researching existing peer-based online mental health tools, our founder had a difficult time finding forum discussions or stories with which she could relate directly. Most platforms focus on facilitating groups or forums that are fairly generic, typically based on a common condition, like depression or anxiety. They lack tools to find or form connections based on more specific conditions and individual backgrounds.
Our user-friendly approach allows members to easily connect one-on-one and in groups based on a wide range of shared characteristics. We call them “Tags”. You select Tags in your profile to search for matching groups and members or to identify groups you create. These Tags include age, location, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race, language, religion, education, profession, student status, and military status.
This approach allows our members to to find groups and members with experiences that are relevant and relatable to your own — someone with a condition or a supporter, the specific condition, stressful life event, personal and cultural backgrounds. We allow anyone to create and lead a group and give them powers normally reserved to an administrator. We think of these groups as micro-communities defined by their Tags. In addition to being thought leaders, Group Leaders have the power to remove posts and members to enhance the group experience. We have heard some tell us that people with mental illness should not be allowed to lead their own groups on our platform. We disagree, but focus on providing a welcoming environment with user tools to manage the quality of their experience.
A place for communities with unique mental health issues
Cultural and societal differences can significantly influence whether or not we seek help, what type of help we seek, what coping styles and support we have, and what treatments might work for us. Some communities experience higher rates of mental illness, higher rates of stigma, lower rates of treatment, and poorer access to resources. These include the LGBTQ+, military, student, and certain ethnic communities. Even when able to access treatment, these communities often receive poorer quality care due to lack of cultural competence, bias, and inadequate resources.
ForLikeMinds is for these unique groups. Much of our community outreach has also focused on facilitating peer support within these unique communities. Members of the military community can connect based on service period, branch, deployment, and combat history, and any exposure to military sexual trauma. We are the only online mental health platform that allows students to connect based on their university. College life is exciting, but also very challenging. It is a critical period for mental health. More than 75% of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24. It is common for students to feel stressed and overwhelmed. A rising number of students are also struggling with sexual assault on campus and self-injury. Student suicide rates have reached alarming highs. A peer-to-peer community can help address the unique mental health needs of this population.
How to Get The Most Out of ForLikeMinds - here.
That Conversation About Mental Illness - here.
All in the Family - here.
Please visit us at ForLikeMinds.