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Free, confidential and online: How Turn2me is revolutionising mental health support

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There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to mental health. With World Mental Health Day happening today, it gives us an opportunity to take a closer look at how we can make mental health care a reality, both at home and worldwide

We have completely different needs, coping mechanisms, and issues that we are facing. While some people need help with family issues or school stress, another person could be dealing with a mental health crisis

The key to tackling mental health problems is getting the right support to the right person at the right time. Of course, this isn’t always easy but thanks to innovative online platform Turn2me, more people are getting the help they need than ever before.

Turn2me was founded by Oisin and Diarmuid Scollard in 2009 after they lost their brother to suicide. This was the impetus for change and they decided to create a platform that would help people to get the right mental health support when they needed it most.

Since then, the charity has continued to revolutionise mental health care here in Ireland thanks to support from the HSE, Sláintecare, NOSP, Pobal and private donations.

The right help

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One of the key elements of Turn2me is the variety of different services that they offer.

Turn2me’s stepped care psychosocial model of online mental health support means that people can tailor support to meet their needs.

“Our stepped care approach enables people to seek support at a level that works for them,” explains Suzanne Ennis, Clinical Manager of Turn2me. “Whether you’re seeking a brief instant text chat with someone in a similar situation, peer* support via online support groups* or one to one counselling* online, you’ll be able to find the right help, completely free of charge. This model also enables people to seek one or all three levels of support.”

(* Turn2me peer and group supports are for users aged 12 plus. Counselling is available to users aged 18 plus).

Online at any time

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Suzanne Ennis, Clinical Manager and Alana, a Peer Supporter from Turn2me

Suzanne Ennis, Clinical Manager and Alana, a Peer Supporter from Turn2me

Suzanne Ennis, Clinical Manager and Alana, a Peer Supporter from Turn2me

Because Turn2me is a fully online platform, it is easy to access the service directly from a mobile phone or desktop. This is particularly important outside of the normal office hours when many other mental health supports are closed.

“Oftentimes when we need help the most, it can be difficult to find,” explains Ennis. “This can be for a number of reasons such as accessibility, logistics and costs. Because Turn2me is available online at no cost, it helps to break down some of these barriers.

Once someone has a mobile device they can avail of our services in a secure, safe, confidential and anonymous manner from a location they are comfortable in.”

Bridging the digital divide

Turn2me’s support, resources and services proved crucial during the pandemic. People could still access vital help regardless of location, situation or restrictions.

“With over ten years of experience, we know that online access support to mental health and wellbeing support is very important,” explains Ennis. “We lead busy lives and sometimes, support nearby is difficult to find. Turn2me provides all of this online at a time and place that suits you. It is a safe and confidential space.

“We also know from feedback that people really value the peer support aspect of Turn2me. By talking with peers and sharing experiences, feelings of isolation can be reduced. All of this is moderated and supported by a trained clinical team.”

Peer support

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Through their in-depth research and ongoing feedback from users of the service, Turn2me tailored the peer support programme based on what users said they needed. As a result, 67pc felt better equipped to support their own mental health.

Turn2me’s custom-built platform is available 24/7 to anyone aged 12+. The service is confidential and anonymous. Members of the Turn2me online community can receive support from both other site users as well as trained community builder volunteers who can signpost to relevant information and services, as well as suggesting upcoming support groups.

Peer supporter Alana has been volunteering with Turn2me as a peer supporter for almost one year.

“As a peer supporter, I feel that not only am I supporting others, I’m also helping myself,” she explains. “By regularly talking about mental health and wellbeing, it lowers the obstacles around talking to friends and family if you’re not feeling ok.”

Another element of the peer support function is the ‘Thought Catcher’. This is a daily diary, where users can select their mood, share their feelings anonymously, and track mood changes. In some situations, it helps to prompt users seek future support if they are experiencing negative feelings or thoughts over a number of days or weeks"

Users can also react and share with people who are experiencing similar challenges, or thoughts can be kept private to users’ accounts. From here, people can choose to receive support from peers like Alana and the Turn2me team.

“Turn2me is like an online family where people have the freedom to talk about how they feel and get support from the comfort of home”.

If you know someone or you are directly affected by any issues raised in this article, visit the Turn2me website for support. If you are in crisis text 50808 for support.


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