Online forums for rural mental health

  • SANE forum on mobile phone

SANE Australia wants country people to know about its online forums.

SANE Forums can support country people affected by mental illness – by helping them to help each other.

The Forums are a safe, anonymous space for people affected by mental illness to meet up online.

Getting help for mental health problems is especially challenging for people living in rural and remote areas, where there are limited health care services. Geographic and social isolation is also more severe in rural and remote communities. It is harder to find others who understand and can provide support.

“Where services are thin on the ground, there is one thing that people affected by mental illness and carers can count on for support – each other. That can make all the difference,” said Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia.

Online forums are run by a variety of mental health organisations where people can share experiences, provide companionship, exchange information, and help each other with coping strategies and other suggestions.

SANE forums carry hundreds of questions and concerns every day such as:

  • “How do I support my wife with borderline personality disorder?”
  • “Anyone started with NDIS?”
  • “How do I battle mental illness while caring for someone else?”

Funded by the Federal Department of Health, SANE Forums operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Safety is a priority so SANE ensures trained moderators are always online.

Moderators ensure that those in crisis are offered the help they need.

They also make sure interactions are respectful, and not misleading or unhelpful (for example, a suggestion to stop taking medication without consulting a doctor).

The service is designed for ease-of-use on mobile devices which is especially important in rural and remote areas.  Mobile phones are often a primary way to access websites.  Approximately half of all visits to the Forums are currently from mobiles.

SANE partners with a number of community mental health support organisations to offer the forums.

“It is important to us that the SANE Forums are provided in partnership with familiar, trusted organisations, embedded in their websites within a context of relevant local information,” said Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia.

“This strategy has been highly successful – we already have partnerships in every State and Territory, with over 50 organisations.”

For more information visit


Need to talk to someone?

If you need immediate assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For further information about depression, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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