How online communities are helping services deliver for SANE Australia

SANE Australia details how an investment into forums technology in enabling it to help interaction between Australians with a mental illness

Mobile Social Networks

Mobile Social Networks Illustration.
Useful As Icon, Illustration , Banners and Background For Social Media Theme and Web.

background, blog, business, chat, communication, communications, community, computer, concepts, connection, consumer, customer, data, dating, discussion, download, downloading, facebook, friend, friendship, global, gossip, icon, idea, information, internet, journalist, mail, media, mobile, network, dreamstime

dreamstime_24413066
Mobile Social Networks Mobile Social Networks Illustration. Useful As Icon, Illustration , Banners and Background For Social Media Theme and Web. background, blog, business, chat, communication, communications, community, computer, concepts, connection, consumer, customer, data, dating, discussion, download, downloading, facebook, friend, friendship, global, gossip, icon, idea, information, internet, journalist, mail, media, mobile, network, dreamstime dreamstime_24413066

Online communities are proving to be incredibly effective at bringing together people of similar interests – even those who face social stigma and isolation.

This has been the experience of SANE Australia, a charitable organisation serving Australians affected by mental illness. SANE has been using online community technology from US-based supplier, Lithium, for the past seven months to power two forums for people either living with mental illness or caring for those who are.

SANE’s chief executive officer, Jack Heath, says the online communities augment existing services such as help lines, which already assist more than 10,000 people each year. More than one million Australians encounter a recognised mental illness every year, and about two thirds are not seeking help.

“We wanted to be able to get out to people that we previously had not been able to connect with,” Heath tells CMO. “We wanted to provide an anonymous environment so they can have a look and not have to declare themselves, and when they feel comfortable about participating in the conversation they can join in.”

While debate has raged online about the dangers posed by anonymous forums, Heath believes there are many people who feel more comfortable participating in an anonymous online community than revealing themselves.

“There is still a very high reluctance from people who do have a mental illness to disclose that to their employers or to their peers,” he says. “So it is very important we can have safe, anonymous conversations with people so they then discover they are not alone.”

Anyone can visit the forum and read posts, but they must become members to comment.

According to SANE’s director of digital, service design and technology, Faruk Avdi, 25,000 unique visitors have visited the forums to date, with an average dwell time of 12 minutes per session. More than 800 people have now signed up to the forums, well exceeding the initial target of 500, with 20 -30 more joining each week.

“We hope to be at 2000 members within another 12 months from now,” Avdi says. “People who have a very particular experience in life find it is very difficult to explain to other people – it is like veterans coming home from war. They know other vets understand their experience but they can’t explain it to other people too readily.”

The reach of the service has also been expanded, with SANE embedding the forums in the pages of other mental health organisations. Fourteen partners have opted to incorporate the forums, and Avdi hopes to increase that number this year as well.

While the service is fully-moderated, Avdi says SANE is taking a light touch, and to date has been pleased with the interactions through the site.

“In time, we do want to take steps to see if there may be some way we can formalise or bring in people who are super users to see if they might like to fulfil a community management role with us,” Avdi says. “But that is ahead of us.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Can marketers trust agencies again?

Unless you’ve been marketing under a rock, you’ll probably have questioned whether your media agencies are offering you transparency.

Nic Halley

Founder and managing director, Mindbox

Nice post Brad! very useful information. The retail stores are really mean for every brand I am agree with you. Now Online Service Market...

Srialto

The rise of online retail marketplaces and what they mean for brands

Read more

Minor correct Nadia, just wanted to clarify that the "Marketo consultants" that did this work, were actually Hoosh consultants

Fab Capodicasa

What it's taking for Edible Blooms to grow a stronger personalisation strategy

Read more

Im not surprise though, been in the industry for couple of years and I feel and see it with my tow eyes how eCommerce platforms innovated...

Jason Smith

Australia Post earmarks $20m for Australian ecommerce innovation investment

Read more

For marketers that are "going Agile" I recommend using Ravetree. It's a really powerful suite of tools for Agile project management, reso...

Janice Morgan

7 ways to run your marketing department like a software startup

Read more

Over the years very part of our lives has become technological. That’s why I am not surprised to see that Australian home loans are going...

GreatDayTo

Why Aussie Home Loans is embracing digital transformation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in