Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Group Beyond Blue: Public or Private???

I need your input!
Several members of Group Beyond Blue (on Beliefnet’s Community, or social networking site) have asked me to make Group Beyond Blue private, meaning that you need to be a member of the group to view and comment on discussion threads.
I threw out the question for discussion a day or so ago, and so far 16 people have commented: 7 for making the group private, and 9 for keeping Group Beyond Blue public.
I really can understand both sides of the argument. The private group would lend itself to more intimacy between members; a public group might serve as an outreach to those not ready to register to the group.
I would like to have as many of you Beyond Blue readers offer your opinion as possible. If we get over 50 responses, I’ll have a better idea of what decision would best serve the group. Please comment either in this combox or as part of the “Private or Public?” thread at Group Beyond Blue.
As always, thanks for contributing your time and heart to such a supportive community. Beyond Blue is the success it is because of all of you.

  • gma

    As long as Therese’s blog remains public, it doesn’t matter to me about the group discussions. I have learned a lot from the blog, but don’t care to join the group.

  • Cat

    I agree with gma.

  • Larry Parker

    There is an argument on the social networking group (one I do not personally agree with) that the blog already is the “public” half of BB, so the social networking group should be the “private” half.
    Anyway, I am only one vote. Everyone, PLEASE make your opinions known either here or on the companion thread on the social networking group.
    As a basic but true political slogan goes, “VOTE — IT’S IMPORTANT!”

  • Amy

    I think that some people who may not wish to join but need the benefit of the site would go today the site if it was public. I would hate to exclude someone because of their pride.

  • Jan

    I don’t belong to any social networking groups on the net, and I would join, if this was private, maybe either way. I really enjoy the blog and have read the public threads on other groups and really benefited from others experiences. Thanks for asking.

  • Minette

    I think that Beyond Blue should be kept public. It’s hard to find this type of support for mental health issues and if you make it private there is a chance that someone will miss out on a lifeline you might be tossing out to them. Does that make sense? I really think that you have worked so hard to educate people about issues of mental health that if you now try to ‘hide it’ you are also showing you are ashamed of the issue . . .

  • valerie

    I haven’t thought real hard about it but I certainly have nothing to hide and no-one “knows” me here anyway. You know what I mean?
    I may not have “joined” if it weren’t public in the first place. I found the site from a small write-up in the “O” magazine.
    So, my vote I guess would be to stay public.
    However, I do respect all opinions. THanks. Valerie

  • Rebecca in Tucson, AZ

    I too see both sides, but I find myself agreeing with the idea that people who are just finding out about depression and maybe aren’t even ready to admit they’re suffering, need somewhere to go to hear other persons testimony and interact. Although I’ve been remiss in not joining, will do so today! Still, we must have somewhere those not yet members can check us out and figure out they’re not alone! That’s the most important realization for anyone suffering, to know they’re NOT ALONE!!!********** Is it possible to have both private and public posts, they could possibly be chosen at the time of making the posts. Natch, this would require the web sites cooperation in making other choice available, I know nothing about that, just a thought. Well, God Bless you Theresa, and good luck!

  • Angela Nazworth

    I think that the blog should remain public, but perhaps add a for members only section for chats, etc.

  • Tricia

    I don’t post on the site, so I will not vote, because it would be unfair,
    I understand both sides.
    However, Therese wants to make the Best Decision for All of Us.
    To do that, she Needs to hear from Everybody…

  • Glenn Slaby

    I found this site via Therese’s column in The tablet. If it was private, I may not have ventured fdurther. Even though my name is used, I don;t feel the need to hide things at this point.
    Going private may limit access. There aree many stories waiting to be heard. Privacy may offset/limit creativity of the unknown. Less people may come to the site. Less individuals seeking help, being helped. Less suggestions.Less worthy ideas.

  • Christine

    Peace to you

  • paula frye

    if it was private. I wouldnt of found it. so I say no

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Well said, Glenn. Many of us (ME, for sure) found Therese through a general search for chat rooms dedicated to dpression or bipolar disorder. Because if that, I hace received a lot of great advice, met many kindered spirits and formed cherished cyber friendships. I’m for keeping it public so others can benefit as I have.

  • Jayne

    Well, I am another one who doesn’t comment so I don’t feel it fair to vote. That said, I would not have found this forum if it was private. Although I do not have bipolar I do have some deep seated mental health issues and the help and comfort I have found here have been a life saver.
    Not sure if that has helped or not.

  • Michelle

    This group has been a lifesaver to me. I found it one day through the Beliefnet site. I have laughed and learned so much through the posts on this site. Imagine the millions of people who suffer in private finding help through this site the same way that I did.

  • Anonymous

    Hi T and Friends,
    I am voting for public. I would never have known about the site without freedom to drop in and see what condition my condition was in. :) It’s a haven and refuge for many who would not be here if it hadn’t been accessible. But…
    I think that being public opens you up to slings and barbs, Therese and for those of us who are constant (not me) in being here they are also ‘targets’ for drive-by shootings (in a manner of speaking). I’m not fond of cheap shots from the cheap seats. Those who stay the course are here for a reason and the drop-ins who criticize and run don’t really help – but freedom of speech also entails freedom to not listen/read/absorb comments that are patently mean-spirited or worse. So, it’s a toss up – and I surely wouldn’t go away if it were private.

  • Priscilla

    I would vote, strongly, to keep the group public, for the reason many have stated. I have learned so much from you, Therese, and also from your readers and posters. It makes me sad to think of the millions of people out there, as Michelle stated, who have yet to discover this site and might be closed out of an important component of the experience if the discussions were off limits to them.
    I can understand how painful it is to share things publicly, but so many people who might not have the courage to do so benefit from knowing that they are not alone. And I think we are all grateful for the courage, generosity and insights of those readers who have participated in the discussions.

  • Lynn

    I hope that you keep this site public. I read so much useful information on this site that is helpful to me. My therapist died a few years ago and I have not found another one. This site helps me with better understanding myself and others with the same problems. I would like to thank everyone for sharing themselves to help others.

  • Stephanie (McCown) Allen

    If the group had been private, I may well have ended up dead. When I found the group, I was in the grip of a very deep and debilitating depression. Finding others who had been in that very place, and had found ways to not only survive, but to thrive, restored my hope. I knew I was not alone, even though I felt so very alone at times. Even though I did not meet anyone face to face, I believed I had found new friends, other “soul survivors”, to weather the storm with. Were it not for that, I would have killed myself. I do not doubt it.
    I think that keeping the group public is a way of providing a vital, life saving outreach, to others who are where we are or have been. I realize that it can feel threatening to have “outsiders” reading the harrowing stories we have to share, and there is concern that our stories may not be understood. The fact is, there will always be some measure of misunderstanding of what we are struggling with. There will always be labels. There will always be people who do not want to understand, and who look at our lives for the sole purpose of finding fault and putting us in a box marked “crazy”. However, I think the group provides much needed insight into the lives of those who struggle with debilitating depression, and helps people see us beyond the illness we struggle with.
    Making the group private would only further marginalize us, I think, and affirm that we are a group of people that cannont coexist with “normal” people. This is not the message I want sent out about me. I want to continue throwing out a lifeline to those who need it, and keeping the group public is one way of doing that.

  • Cindy

    My vote is for public. I think there are enough forums within the member site that are private and offer opportunities for members to feel more open about expressing themselves.
    Making BB private seems defeat it’s whole purpose. Reaching others who have no idea that they are not alone. Reaching those, like myself when I found BB, who are feeling no hope. Therese, you made me feel like I had a friend that understood every turn I faced. Please don’t take that away. You are making a difference in the world. Beyond Blue makes a difference in people’s lives. Especially, for those who don’t feel like they can raise their voice yet. I remember reading BB many times before I ever felt comfortable posting a comment.
    Thanks for the opportunity to feel OK about saying what I think and feel!

  • Bobbi

    I’m also for public. I found your page and have passed it on to many of my family members and friends. I’m not so sure they would have the energy or inclination to “join” but being able to share has been great. Thanks for all you do to help us through the dark days and for helping us laugh more.

  • Nancy aka SixLittleKitties

    Is there any way you could make it so that others can view the comments of “members” but could not “post” unless they became a member?
    It would serve both groups BUT if you are unable to to separate viewing and commenting then I would say keep it open to the public because there are times I go into the different groups just to see what is being said and thought even when I have no comment to post.
    Nan aka sixlittlekitties

  • phyllis dearmond

    Thank you

  • Alyssa Morris

    To date, I have not participated in Group Beyond Blue. I have only followed and commented on this blog. However, I am not Catholic and had never heard of you, so whatever link I followed to get here would not have existed if this was kept private.
    I have recently been diagnosed with Bipolar II after twenty years of dealing with and learning about my major depression. It’s a big adjustment and I’ve thought of you often over the last days. “Someone else is going through this, too.” “Someone else lived with a different diagnosis for years and is now adjusting and getting to know herself and her disease better.” You have helped me stay strong.
    Finally, someone told me long ago that God gave me depression because He knew I wouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. I have helped and educated many people throughout the years and I believe a public forum is the only way to fully erase the stigma and continue helping people who have never realized there may be an answer to why they feel the way they do.
    Thanks Therese.

  • Dylan Croft

    I am against going private. I think as long as we hide our diagnoses, the stigma will remain. I also think a lot about self-stigmatization. How many are not so much afraid of being stigmatized by others, are just as stigmatized by themselves? Neither of these will end by closing the group. I wish BB would remain open. There are two new people who came aboard because they were able to read the postings. I am concerned that the people voting for keeping the group open will lose. What gets me is that it was an open group when people joined. Why change a good thing?

  • Larry Parker

    I find it intriguing that votes on the blog are strongly pro-public, but votes on the group itself are slightly pro-private or at least evenly split.
    Something to think about for all of us.

  • Sue/TallWillow

    I think that at least some of the posters here think that Group BB is the same as this blog, and naturally want this valuable resource to be available publicly.
    I like the idea of having both a public “outreach” blog and a private group. That way, people can post either way (as long as they choose to join the group.)
    It doesn’t seem to me that it’s a matter of stigma, so much as preferring privacy for some stories. It’s also about choosing who I want to be “out” to.

  • hondo

    I think it should remain public. If it was private I would have never found it. The help and ideas that I have received from your blog have been so educational and uplifting plus it gives hope. Back in January when I came across your web-site I was in pretty bad shape I had been off of work for about 5 weeks my meds weren’t doing what they were suppose to be doing. With the help of God and my doctor and some good therapy sessions and your web-site I was able to feel better much quicker and have been back to work since March 7th. Theresa you have a gift and a lot of helpful information for us all that suffer with this illness. So keep sharing Because I believe you our helping many of us. God Bless lllllllllll lllllllllll .hondo.

  • Paul Pfaff

    Have not posted here before, but as a counselor with a history of depression myself, I have found this to be the best resource on the web for helping people. The group is a natural extension of this sane and healthy place, and for the stigma reasons noted above I think public access is best.
    Another reason – I was involved in an on-line support group for several years in the late 90’s. Because it was a moderated private group, many folks assumed that it was a therapuetic environment, when in reality it was more a self-help support group. As good as it was, some folks used the group as a replacement for treatment rather than as supplement/support. Probably not what you’re trying to do.
    Thanks for all you do here – it is excellent. I have used your 12-step program for overcoming depression with several clients and they have all benefitted.

  • Caroline

    I am for public too. The whole point of this is to educate people about mental illness and help others as well as each other. Being private defeats the purpose. If there are things that people need to “share privately”, they can always exchange private e-mails. I am sure a lot of people are afraid / too shy to write about themselves but benefitting a lot from reading the posts. People who would never make the step to enter the group because they feel they don’t have anything worth saying or don’t write well enough, are not sure they belong in there (yet). It feels like turning a library into a book club. Please don’t shut silent readers out!

  • John

    Therese, I think that I would participate more on BB blogs, if the group was not public. I followed you here from which is very public. I am a very private person, so even commenting on this public thread is scarry to me. As far as your personal blog goes, I’m sure any member of the public, would very likely sign up, for a private group, especially if they were concerned about privacy. They would still benefit from your witty & insightful stories & words of wisdom on your blog. which I subscribe to daily.
    So I’m voting for the group to be private, for members only.

  • Larry Parker

    BTW, since this is a topic that has come up on the blog as well as the social networking group, I’d encourage everyone interested to join a topic I started on the social networking group called “Are Advocacy and Support Opposed?” (http://)
    Because I don’t think the advocacy v. support and public v. private questions NECESSARILY overlap.

  • Anonymous

    oh please leave it public!!! i wouldn’t have found this if it weren’t public and it really helps me at times to just be able to click on here and browse through the various articles and click on the pertinent ones. this has been such a blessing.

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