Our award-winning partnership with Big White Wall delivers early interventions via an online wellbeing service
We have formed an innovative partnership with an enterprise called Big White Wall to deliver early intervention services for people in psychological distress. This service combines social networking principles with a choice of clinically-informed interventions to improve mental wellbeing.
Why did we get involved?
We are aware that mental health service providers like us only reach a fraction of those in need, and that many people with depression do not consult anyone. Through our work with young people we have become increasingly aware of how developments in social media have allowed young people to discuss sensitive issues more freely, but often in unmoderated environments where bullying or harassment can occur.
We were pleased to discover that Big White Wall had begun to offer a safe online environment where vulnerable individuals can find support and discuss issues safely and hoped to offer our clinical assistance.
What is our role on Big White Wall?
We undertook a comprehensive risk assessment of the online environment, from the potential abuse of power by users through to technical issues, and have established policies on the recruitment and selection of 'Wall Guides' (site facilitators), their training and supervision, and how to support Wall Guides in managing users who may be at risk of harm.
We have also contributed to the production of self-help materials and outcome measurement, and will undertake quarterly audits of activity on the sites. In essence the site operates within the full clinical governance framework, though adapted for the online environment.
How does the service work?
Big White Wall is based on the premise that an individual has access to appropriate psycho-social support in the moment that they experience the need.
The service can be accessed 24/7 at www.bigwhitewall.com and has staff (Wall Guides) who ensure the full engagement, safety and anonymity of all members. Big White Wall users are supported via the following functions:
- a community of thousands providing peer support
- talking therapies in community groups and one-to-ones
- creative self-expression through art and writing therapies
- guided groups informed by recognised therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy
- relationship building using social networking practices
- an 'Extensive Useful Stuff' section for self-managing psychological distress.
Who benefits from this service?
- The 50% of people with mental health issues who never go to a GP for fear of stigma
- the 1 in 3 who visit a GP for conditions that are not physical, or with medically unexplained symptoms
- people who want choice over when and how to manage psychological distress
- people who feel isolated and vulnerable due to psychological distress
- those on waiting lists for psychological therapies or who want additional out of hours support
- Trusts and organisations who want high health outcomes at a reasonable cost.
Independent review findings:
- 73% of members share an issue on the Big White Wall Support Network for the first time
- 95% experience improvements in wellbeing
- 80% use Big White Wall to help self-manage their psychological distress.