Mental illness is a growing problem in the UK, as it is in many countries, and it still carries a stigma. The reality is that most of us will struggle at one time or another, and often people don’t know who to talk to. Recently, a non-profit, confidential website called Cathartic launched to help combat this problem.
Cathartic is an online space for people to tell their own story, in their own words. This enables them to unburden themselves from something that could be overwhelming them. It’s a safe, secure and anonymous site. You do not need to sign up, there is no universal account and no need to share an email address. There is no need for approval, and all contributions are added without judgement or prejudice. Subjects all too often include abuse and suffering, but by talking about their issues, users take their first step. When someone posts a story, they are given a list of charities who can help.
I talked to founder Neil Chandler about the site.
Hi Neil. What was your reason for starting Cathartic?
There are two main reasons, really. 1. I am a geek, so building a website that is completely anonymous is an interesting challenge. 2. Throughout my life I have lost too many friends to substance abuse. Some might still be alive if they had talked about their problems and found the correct help. This is what I want to solve. While developing Cathartic.co I commissioned some research to verify Cathartic.co is a good thing. The results were shocking. In short, we don’t talk enough.
Is there a particular topic that people seem to share stories about more than others?
I was quite surprised to find the stories to be as diverse as they are, I wouldn’t say anything stands out in particular. One of the fascinating things is you can read a story and due to the anonymity you have no idea about the author, but by the end of the story you have your own picture in your mind.
Do you think there is enough mental health provision in the UK, and in the world as a whole?
In short, no. The people who work in the industry do amazing jobs, they just don’t have the resources. In addition, I think it’s a cultural problem. Too many people bottle up their issues and turn to self medication. I do think things are changing – campaigns like #timetotalk are wonderful.
What is the single biggest threat to mental wellbeing at the moment?
We don’t talk enough. The sooner someone talks, the sooner they get help. It’s not an easy thing to do, but talking really helps.
If you had unlimited resources, what would you like to achieve with Cathartic?
I just want to grow cathartic.co as big as possible. I suppose with unlimited resources it would be wonderful if language were not a barrier.
You might also be interested in watching this courageous TEDx talk on depression by Kevin Breel: