FutureFive NZ - Can the internet save mental health sufferers?

Warning: This story was published more than a year ago.

Can the internet save mental health sufferers?

The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation has praised the effects of social media, believing the internet to help depression sufferers.

Branding it the modern equivalent of "picking up the phone", the foundation is now increasing efforts to working online, in order to help sufferers speak out.

Dating back as far as the 1950s, CEO Judi Clements told Stuff.co.nz it was then that people realised the importance of other communication when asking for help, rather than a face to face meeting.

Taking away the more traditional methods of telephoning a friend, Clements now believes the internet is the modern alternative.

"It isn't the phone call people will think about now, it's Facebook," she said.

"People feel more liberated to talk to somebody that doesn't know them, doesn't know their history, doesn't know their baggage.

"What we have observed is that people tend to want to provide support and encouragement. That's the essence of humanity, is to be helpful.

"We're hard-wired to help."

Genuine pleas?

Addressing the touchy issue of whether such public statements of emotion were genuine or simply "attention-seeking", Clements dismissed any concerns and believed each declaration online should be treated with importance.

"I don't think we should ever diminish people statements like that," she told Stuff.co.nz.

"Anyone saying they're going through that time deserves a human, compassionate response."

While any form of communication seeking help is welcomed, Clements' views that sufferers can find some solace online indicates a shift in behaviour between generations.

Whether it be chatting to a complete stranger, a close friend or counsellor, if the internet can provide the forum for much-needed advice and help - then it should be encouraged further.

Would you turn online for help? Tell us your thoughts below

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