Social media is connecting people living with illness

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Kristin Gillespie, 54, has lived with mental illness for most of her life, and now helps to run a closed Facebook group for Australians living with psycho-social disability.

Kristin said the announcement of the NDIS prompted her to connect with others who were also grappling with how the scheme would work.

“I’m very much a believer that people with disabilities need to stick together … and peer support is enormously beneficial and powerful if it’s done well,” Kristin said.

According to Kristin, the group, which now has more than one thousand members, provides peer support and practical information about mental health and the NDIS.

“We have a huge range of stuff in the group. Sometimes we might be discussing how things operate at a nuts and bolts level, or we might be discussing one person’s lived experience,” she said.

“We have articles about things like self-care, causes of mental illness, or we might share artwork. It’s quite varied.”

For Kristin, one of the biggest benefits of the group is that people can participate from anywhere in Australia.

“People who suffer from serious mental illness tend to be very isolated, and many of us have to live in more rural or remote locations simply because we can’t afford to live in the city,” she said.

“It enables us to connect with other peers in a fairly safe environment, and that’s actually quite hard to do.”