It’s been a while, apologies dear readers. Lots of changes in my life.
I’d like to pop back in to your lives with news of an update over at Mmmeta.com. So, let’s go!
For those who don’t know, Mmmeta is a “community of creative people who have been affected by mental illness.” It is “a place to share with likeminded people, support each other and express ideas and emotions in creative ways.”
You must go and check the website out. It has a strong community of members (including me!) who regularly post their work and interact with each other, as well as regular news and information in the form of blog posts and events. It’s a great inspiration to me and something I would like this blog (especially the forum part) to eventually become.
Below is a recent (rather long but interesting) interview with Mmmmeta founder, Dave Smurthwaite (who is also a part of Fringe Arts Bath), with a particular focus on Eating Disorders and online support.
Please have a read…and bear in mind the interview is unedited so grammar might be dodgy!
First, could you briefly describe your website and the main goals you are aiming to achieve through making this site?
Firstly a lot of what we set out to do is in the funding application i forwarded you, this still stands and would be what we’d call our goal or ‘wants’ from the project, that of social integration for individuals with mental health issues, development of a supportive community based around art and mental health.
I will say this however, on a personal note, i have schizophrenia and have so far not found on the web a community based around a cutting edge forward thinking website that can provide ‘community’ functions and appease my interests in art & design (as with many individuals with mental health issues, a common interest). There are elements of this on twitter, though twitter can be very dispersive and eclectic and so as is often the case it can be difficult to pin down, or put to good use.
So anyway, like i say on a personal front this site was about creating something i could not find on the web. something like Tumblr, or ffffound but for individuals with mental health issues. The downside of the whole thing however is that while we’ve managed to raise the funds and initially the project seemed to be going really well, it seems we choose the wrong designers to develop and finish the project off. as a user yourself, i’m sure you can see where the ‘holes’ are or where, the site just simply does not live up to expectation. (have thought about saying to the designers in very simple terms, that the site is more of a second hand Ford, where we were needing a Mercedes!)
I am still on the designers backs, but alas i fear it might all be too late. that is we choose the wrong people to partner with in the first place. That aside Fords can still be of some use, and i’m hoping through advertising that a community may still blossom and grow.
Sorry, i don’t think this answers your question, though i hope a personal view point can be of good use. All the formal terms and conditions surrounding the what’s where’s and why’s are in our funding application. Feel free to copy and paste what you like from there.
As my topic directly relates to eating disorders, do you believe that there is sufficient support available for those with mental disorders/eating disorders online?
my knowledge regarding eating disorders is a little sparse __ but when it comes to mental health in general, and in knowing what’s available online, I’ve been around the block a few times.
for me the whole mental health thing online breaks down in two ways; firstly there’s what i’d say was the condition defined type __ the type of sites that exist purely for those who feel there lives are defined by their condition. And by the look of their popularity i’d say there’s quite a few people out there that feel this way … this being an example http://psychcentral.com/ but also where sites have ventured down the social network line then http://www.realmentalhealthsite.com/ being an example.
the second way then (and which is kind of similar to the first way) is the charity based information heavy sites; sites which act as resources, information wells and when from established and reputable charities, have a real purpose. http://www.mind.org.uk/ being an example.
what all of the above though i feel misses is the ‘youth’ __ and by that i don’t just mean young people but also those who really know what their doing online, sharp design savvy folk with established twitter accounts, read the next web and tech crunch and stay a breast of the latest trends and breakthroughs __ now i’m not saying i’m necessarily one of ‘this type’ but i do know there is a difference between say http://www.behance.net/ and http://psychcentral.com/ it needs little explaining.
So, how is MMMETA different to all these different sites?
the whole idea and premise behind mmmeta was (and still is i hope!) to combine mental health with cutting edge technology and art & design. Art & design then being one of those common threads that link many charities in the mental health field and hospitals too. Art & design often unfortunately gets put in the same boat as art therapy, which within this pond holds true in many respects, however i assure you art therapy is not for everyone, and further more why should those with mental health conditions have to be pigeon holed into the therapy relationship just to get the most out of art & design
the technology bit is basically because no one else is succeeding with this at the moment (as far as i know anyway) that is as what i described above; combining mental health with art & design and cutting edge technology (exclusively (because i think tumblr have medical and maybe now even mental health categories? (you may know this better than i?)))
Anyway, whether someone is doing this already or whether it’s been done before, i was kind of hoping mmmeta would just be good!! __ Parisa, how do you find it? did you find that there was too much to read before getting to understand how the thing worked?, or did you just find it intuitive? did you get the whole thing about peoples profiles being displayed above posts before you read it in the introduction?
despite the amount of knowledge you have (or don’t have) on eating disorders in general, do you believe that it is possible for individuals with eating disorders to overcome their eating disorders with the appropriate help and support online? If yes, how do you believe this can happen? If not, what are your reasons for this answer?
in my mind, nothing beats real person with real person talking therapy. real talking therapy in my mind is the best solution to overcoming all mental health problems __ a lot of what being in hospital is, is about this, a lot of consultation and a lot of talking … it of course needs to be in the right time and place for everybody __ but i believe when it all comes together for someone there’s nothing better
the reason mmmeta is called mmmeta is because meta.com was taken (obviously) and so we called it mmmeta.com __ haha __ as i say the real reason why it’s called mmmeta is because in my mind the online world is kind of metaphysical __ a reflection, a metaphor __ and so the play on words for mmmeta reflects this. the definition of ‘meta’ in the dictionary reflecting this.
__ i think the world is changing at a super fast pace __ just yesterday google released new Chromebooks, computers founded on providing super fast online and internet services and not much else __ that is, and in trying to keep ahead of the competition they see that a lot of what we will be doing in the future will be based solely online. __ this says a lot. and as part of this trend then mental health then also has it’s place online.
The problem i feel a lot of people experience these days is that there really are no really safe places locally or communally where people can really be themselves … places where real talking can take place, places where in real life (and not online) people can get together and truly connect. __ and so a lot of people turn to the internet to try and resolve this problem. I think that’s part of the reason sites like tumblr are doing so well at the moment. and so to this end __ and if we are going to see a continuation of this trend in society then i think the internet will play larger and larger a role.
I still hold dear however that real face to face talking beats all the competition!
What sorts of things do you think can be done online to improve the general way of things for individuals with mental illnesses?
there’s a real issue i think about how charities and some sites approach mental illness on the internet. almost pigeon holing people before they’ve even had a chance to say anything __ what i mean is, a site is either a mental health site, or it is not. there seems to be no blurred lines, no real places that reflect what it’s like for someone with a mental illness where it’s not just all about the illness but that it’s also about people in general __ or as in mmmeta’s case art and design … i know a lot of people with mental health problems who do not really want to talk about them straight away, right from the outset — and so somewhere where mental health is part of the conversation (website) but is not the whole story, would make a welcome change, a sideline issue, or enough of a presence to make it feel reassuring but not overwhelming
What are some changes that can be made to the online world to reduce the triggers for individuals with eating disorders?
well the online world in a lot of ways is a bit like the real world on drugs … that is think of anything that might or could happen in real life, stick this situation on speed and you have the internet version! __ i would imagine to this end then, that if people, or parents is some cases, are not careful there are probably some god awful sites people in these situations could visit __ on the flip side of this of course (though again what i was saying about in the previous answer) would be the positive sites / services that are out there
what are some different ways that the internet can be used to combat eating disorders?
I’ve known a couple of people who have ended up in hospital because of anorexia/bulimia __ it’s not a nice place to be … under section in the uk, hospital staff are able to force treatment onto people where they deem it necessary, so in the case of anorexia, force someone to eat. (i should add that sectioning here in the uk can only be done to someone where they present a very real risk to themselves or others) __ which i would further add, i presume (in limited knowledge) that you can section someone here if they are likely to kill themselves because of not eating and force treatment upon them.
what’s all really nasty about all this is the against ones will bit. for your own good, tough love etc. it really hurts a lot of people, and often people don’t forgive those who executed the tough love carried out to save them … it’s a loose loose situation.
As i’m sure your aware because of doing this project, the internet can be a great place to express anger and resentment but also where so find support and love __ so as far as this relates to people with eating disorders i think you have a kind of mixed bag here. It’s a difficult question to answer, though i would probably return to a previous answer to a previous question. face to face talking is the best kind of therapy.