First 'citizen therapy' social network, Big White Wall, tackles global mental health

April 23, 2008 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
‘Citizen Therapy’ website, Big White Wall (, is the first emotional health network where people can express themselves anonymously without fear of being judged or stigmatised. Big White Wall empowers individuals from all over the world to reach out and share support with their online neighbours.

Big White Wall users express their secrets, fears or deeper concerns on a brick on The Wall by uploading images, drawing or writing. The brick is then posted alongside thousands of others on The Wall, each of which represents one unit of human emotion. The range of topics posted so far is vast, from self harm and depression, to family issues and relationship problems; all of which can lead to mental health problems if not addressed.

Big White Wall offers peer support, or ‘citizen therapy’, as users interact with each other by commenting on bricks, offering views and encouragement in the Talkabout forum or through using one-to-one private messaging.

At a time when emotional health is fast being recognized as a global issue with anxiety and depression are set to become the second largest health problem by 2020, with economic recession beckoning, and with increasing doubt about the value of medication as an adequate response to poor mental health, Big White Wall offers a life-enhancing space for those who need a place to express what is really on their mind. As one of the users recently commented:
‘I am very new in here, finding my way to the wall is my last attempt to keep fighting. I find everything so difficult to bear at the moment, but this community is somehow enabling me to continue the struggle. I thank you for your kind welcome and for all the people who have not turned their back on me in my moment of crisis. My only hope is that when my strength returns, I can be as empathetic as you all,’ JayT.

The Big White Wall audience is hugely varied and more recently has included US and UK military veterans struggling to come to terms with rehabilitation into civilian life as well as those who are feeling the bite of economic downturn. Also on Big White Wall are concerned parents, distressed and lonely college students, individuals struggling with their sexuality, and many others.

The one thing all these users share is a struggle to express how they are really feeling to their friends and family. On Big White Wall people share issues in a safe online space to gain the confidence to have emotionally healthy lives offline.

Founder Jenny Hyatt, Chairman Vanda Scott OBE, and CEO Charlotte Vere of Big White Wall, are all available for interview.