Discussion Board closure

Following a recent review, we have decided to remove the Discussion Board from the Aware website. It will close at 5pm tomorrow, Wednesday 20 July 2011, and will not be available after this time.

The Discussion Board is closing because we do not have the resources to maintain and moderate a set of 24-hour online forums. This allows us to focus our resources on the other support services we offer, particularly the online support groups, where our team of fully-trained facilitators will continue to provide a safe, supportive space to discuss depression and related illnesses. The feedback on these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive since launch in January – if you have not yet signed up, you can register here.

To explain this decision in more detail, we’ve put together a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). These are included below and should cover everything you need to know, including other support services available, both through Aware and through other organisations.

Thanks to everyone who posted on the forums and we hope you’ll continue to support each other in our online support groups.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

- Why is Aware closing a support service that could help people suffering from depression?
- Did something happen on the Board to bring about the closure?
- What other support services are available?
- Can we post mobile phone numbers to keep in touch after the Board closes?
- Will my use of the online support groups be affected?
- What happens to my personal details?
- What happens to my posts?

Why is Aware closing a support service that could help people suffering from depression?
We’re closing the Aware Discussion Board because we do not have the resources to support a set of 24-hour online forums. This decision allows us to concentrate our resources, now and in the future, on the other support services we offer – the online support group service, as well as our helpline, email service and face-to-face support groups.

Did something happen on the Board to bring about the closure?
No. This decision is about how Aware can best use its resources to provide the right kind of support to individuals affected by depression (or concerned family members/friends) in a safe environment. Many of you have already used our online support group service and the feedback on these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. The online support group service is now our main online focus and our fully-trained facilitators will continue to support you through those meetings.

What other support services are available?
Aware and other organisations offer a number of services to give you the support you need.

Aware services:

- The Aware helpline provides emotional support on loCall 1890 303 302
- We offer depression support by email at wecanhelp@aware.ie
- Online support groups are available through the Aware website
- Aware provides face-to-face support groups in nearly 50 locations around Ireland

Other organisations:

- The Samaritans offer a 24-hour helpline on 1850 60 90 90 as well as an email support service (jo@samaritans.org)
- 1Life is a free 24-hour helpline for those feeling suicidal (Freephone 1800 247 100)
- Pieta House offers intensive counselling in Limerick and Dublin for those who are self-harming or experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If you specifically want to continue to use a discussion board, there are other online forums based in Ireland and elsewhere that focus on mental health issues.

Can we post mobile phone numbers to keep in touch after the Board closes?
We always advise against exchanging personal contact details and this situation is no different. Remember that everything posted in these forums is available publicly – without being over-dramatic, it can only take a few seconds for your phone number to be available in Google search results.

This guideline is also about self-care. While you may be in a position now to provide support to someone else, this situation may change in future. You could easily find yourself under additional pressure and we do not want that to happen.

Will my use of the online support groups be affected?
No. In fact, the Discussion Board is closing so that all our online resources can go towards growing the online support group service further.

Even if you signed up to the online support group service and the Discussion Board using the same username and/or password, only your Discussion Board account will be affected. You will still be able to log into the online support groups as normal. If you have not yet signed up, you can register for the service here.

What happens to my personal details?
The information you gave us when you signed up (username, password, email address and possibly a signature or some personal profile information) will all be deleted after the forums close. Your details will not be stored on any database and you will only receive emails from us in future if you use one of our other online support services.

What happens to my posts?
All posts will be deleted when the Discussion Board closes and will no longer be available for viewing. As per the ethical promises contained in our website Terms of Service, no clinical research will be conducted on these posts.

After 5pm on Wednesday 20 July 2011, you will no longer be able to view posts on the Board. If there are any tips, book recommendations, etc. that you want to remember, please make note of them before then. Even Aware staff and volunteers will not be able to access this information for you after the Board closes.

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