Need a supportive place to talk and let things out? Look no further. Here’s a breakdown of the internet’s supportive chat rooms and what each has to offer.
Why Peer Support?
Your options for mental health support depend on your resources. And those of us who need help with depression and anxiety don’t often have a lot of resources to devote to feeling better. We want to feel better right now, and we don’t have a lot of time or money to make that happen.
Unfortunately, the most well-known mental health resource, therapy, isn’t even available to many who need it. It’s definitely a helpful tool for mental health struggles, but in-person therapy takes time, energy, transportation, logistics, calendar space, and uh — MONEY.
In-person support groups can be a helpful alternative to talk therapy, but logistics may still pose a problem, and you can’t access them on-demand, when you most need help in your struggle.
You need to find a resource that checks all your boxes, off the bat: affordability, accessibility, quality, and efficacy. That’s where online peer support comes in.
An online supportive chat room can be your lifeline for mental health maintenance, so if you’re going to do it, do it right. The only problem is, there are so many choices!
Top Options For Supportive Chat Rooms
To make your choice easier, we laid out the top supportive chat rooms, below.
Sanvello provides either online therapy (CBT), or a static chat room without moderators. In this case, ‘free’ might mean a free-for-all. You have to rely on there being a group for your specific struggle. And anyone can join any group.
So for instance, you might go to a ‘relationship issues’ chat to talk about your cheating boyfriend, only to find a bunch of boyfriends discussing their own infidelity.
Ideally, you’d just be automatically put with people who get your current struggle. Here, you might not find the right chat for your problem, and the people there might not view the problem the same way you do.
If you might feel easily triggered, prefer a more well-controlled space, or want to feel completely understood, keep looking.
In one sentence: lots of potentially triggering, hypersexual content, and little actual support. You can get things off your chest, but you won’t really feel less alone… and you might pick up a few more pieces of baggage on the way. There’s no structure for who responds to you or how; it can feel isolating to share a deep, dark secret, only to get no reassurance, or worse, negative feedback.
7cups is a basic resource with much room for improvement. It has had reports of improper moderator behavior during chats – and the company’s use of personal data is also in question (both of which, the State of California is currently reviewing).
At Supportiv, there is always at least one real, live person to talk to you.
7cups’ chat moderators, or ‘trained listeners,’ receive active listening training, but don’t necessarily have a background that helps them be… helpful.
When you’re looking for a supportive chat room, a group moderator keeps the conversation on track. But you also need it to be a well-trained moderator — otherwise, they either won’t be able to bring the group together, or they might share too much, dominate the group, or get downright creepy.
Nothing feels worse than seeking support, only to feel unheard. Because of that, some supportive chat room sites recruit more experienced moderators, and train them more – which means a smoother, safer, more helpful experience for you.
Take Supportiv as an example: Supportiv’s moderators are Psychology undergraduates who, in addition to their comprehensive training, can share cutting-edge information that may help you feel better – aside from relating to you with their own struggles.
One of the big pluses for Supportiv is that there’s a well-trained person to talk to, 24/7. It’s not like Sanvello or other static chats where the chat room is always there, and you can leave messages for when other people look at it.
No, at Supportiv, there is always at least one real, live person to talk to you. You will never go to their site and feel left hanging. That can be a game-changer for those of us with anxiety or really intense emotions to work through in the moment.
And Supportiv ticks the boxes other supportive chat rooms don’t:
- Their technology takes the effort out of relating. You don’t have to search and comb through pages to find the right spot to vent — you’re automatically connected with people who already relate to the same struggle, so it never feels like you’re working to feel heard.
- Moderators are all well-educated in mental health topics and extensively trained.
- Chat rooms are moderated in realtime — keeping trolls and insensitive people out, while keeping the discussion on track. This avoids unexpected triggering or feelings of isolation.
Notes From Supportiv Users
The advantages of this peer support model show – peer support at Supportiv helps people regroup and feel less hopeless:
“I got on the app feeling super sad and depressed. At first it felt nice to speak anonymously about how I felt, and have people respond to me. However, what really helped me was being able to respond to other people, and make them feel better as well!”
“I feel amazing. Just having someone to listen can make a huge difference. And it’s open 24 hours.”
“Great way to get to know people and share thoughts, desires, and feelings anonymously and develop conversations with people.”
“You get to tell ur problems to actual people, and they listen! It’s like having a really good friend that cares.”
“I seriously thank the person who made this application, very easy to use and simple.”
So there’s your roundup of supportive chat room options in 2020. Hopefully you can get excited about these mental wellness resources – play around with your options and take a step forward, for yourself!
If you’re really struggling, or need help sorting out next steps — there’s someone right here to hash it out with.