|South Africans to get bipolar help on Facebook|
Friday, 25 May 2012 12:45
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is harnessing the power of social media to reach out to those suffering from bipolar disorder.
There are reportedly more than 450 000 South Africans who live with this mental illness.
In honour of Bipolar Awareness Day tomorrow (May 26), SADAG will be hosting a series of live Facebook chats today and tomorrow. Anyone who has questions about the disorder will be able access the SADAG Facebook page and use the social network’s chat application to pose questions to psychiatrists and SADAG counsellors.
The service is not just for bipolar sufferers, but also for their family and friends who want to find out more about the symptoms of the disorder, treatment options, medication, where they can receive clinical care, and how to best support someone who is living with the condition.
One of the psychiatrists who will be available to field questions during the live chat, Dr. Frans Korb, says: “People living with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states. These emotional swings usually occur in distinct, identifiable time frames.”
“Fear, shame and even guilt keep many people suffering in silence and for some it is years before they are properly diagnosed and treated,” says Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s operations director.
This is not SADAG’s first foray into using Facebook as a tool. Earlier this year, the organisation partnered with the social networking site to become South Africa’s official suicide prevention agency. When anyone living in South Africa posts anything on Facebook that implies that they plan to commit suicide or harbour suicidal thoughts, it can be reported by concerned friends, loved ones or even strangers via Facebook. This will ensure that the person who has been identified will receive SADAG’s contact details and that the NGO is made aware of the posting.
According to SADAG founder Zane Wilson, this new service has been successful so far. “We have had a very positive response to this new suicide prevention tool and regularly contact South Africans who may be at danger of committing suicide.”
The live Facebook chats will take place on SADAG’s Facebook page on: Friday May 25 at 13:00 and will be hosted by psychiatrist Dr. Jan Chabalala and on Sunday May 27 at 19:00, when it will be hosted by Dr. Dora Wynchank.
Live chats will also take place at Lundbeck My Support on Friday, May 25 at 19:00, hosted by psychiatrist Dr. Frans Korb; and on Saturday May 26 at 13:00, also hosted by Dr. Korb.
To join the chats, or for more information, visit www.sadag.org, click on the button that will link to the Facebook chat or on the link to the My Support chat.
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