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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen

Anh accessed mental health support through Orygen when she was going through a ‘rough time’ at university. Towards the end of her treatment, her case manager suggested she try using Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST)—an online platform that provides a safe online social network, personal therapy programs and resources to support mental health.

Anh said she found the online environment comforting and supportive, because it made her feel like she was not alone, no matter what the time of day.

When I started going on to it, I felt more comfortable and relaxed, knowing that I’ve got others around to support me. If I had any problems, I could contact someone and they would be able to help make me feel a lot better and I know that I’m never alone.

It’s a comfortable feeling knowing someone is there. They’re on there 24/7, if you need someone at a bad time, they’re just there and they’ll appear and start talking to you, making you feel a lot better.

Anh said she found the platform had a strong community feel, which positively contributed to her own mental health.

You can post whatever you’ve got to say, for example, something encouraging, and then you can just say, ‘this is what brightened up my day and I hope it brightens up your day as well’. I remember seeing people commenting on my post that it had actually brightened up their day and that made me feel a lot better as well.

Despite sometimes talking to clinicians who Anh may not have worked with before, she still felt it was easy to connect with them.

They made themselves approachable like a friend, a very close, trusted friend so that I was able to express myself.

Anh said the accessibility of the program can fill a gap between face‑to‑face appointments.

When I started having an episode, I wasn’t always able to get an appointment with my case manager as soon as possible. Then when I did see my case manager, the episode was gone and I couldn’t really explain how bad it was. I felt really down because I couldn’t talk to anyone about it during that time phase. But MOST is carried in your pocket, you can message your case manager straight away and explain to them what’s going on.

Anh said the platform helped her make social connections as well.

One of the workers would say, ‘we’re going to have a little social gathering’, and then anyone that’s able to come can start meeting with each other and talking.

Anh spoke of a cartoon on the platform that she found supportive.

It was a step by step cartoon that illustrated someone going through the same experiences as I was, with the help of the cartoon, it guided me through how to take control of my own wellbeing, as well as how to manage how I was feeling and that it was alright to stop and take a deep breath in and just breathe to relax and calm myself down.

Following Anh’s positive experience with the platform, she would like to see it expanded to more young people. Anh also thinks it could be a good access point to connect to Orygen, because, she says it can be difficult to take the step of going there in person and speaking to someone.

Sources: RCVMHS, Interview with Anh Nguyen, October 2020; Orygen, Moderated Online Social Therapy, [accessed November 2020].