Friday 6 December marks the start of The Big Give Christmas Challenge. This year we're raising money for our online support community, Elefriends. An Ele handler blogs about helping the Ele look after his friends.
As an Ele handler, I’m part of the team that helps the Elephant look after his friends. We’re on Elefriends during office hours on Monday to Friday, and twice a day on weekends.
Elefriends began as a Facebook page about mental health at work. “The Elephant in the Room” took on a life of its own and became its own community, Elefriends, in February 2013. Since then, 8,000 more people have become part of the herd.
As Ele handlers, our role is to facilitate the peer support that Elefriends provide each other. We’re there to answer any questions or concerns, to signpost Elefriends who are struggling, to post daily updates from the Elephant and to keep the site safe.
The first thing we check in the morning is how the Elefriends were doing overnight. Nights can be particularly tough for some, so Elefriends can click a button which lets the Handlers know there’s something they should take a look at. We also review any posts that might need to be removed, for example, posts with swearing or triggering content. We send feedback to the Elefriends so they understand why the Ele might have removed their post.
Elefriends can also private message the Elephant, so the next thing we do is check his inbox. Often, these will be questions from new friends, or messages asking us to take a look at a post or comment.
Then we check the wall so we can see how the Elefriends are doing. The Elefriends do an amazing job of supporting each other. Rarely does a post go unanswered. Even if Elefriends find it hard to know what to say, they can always click the, “like”, “thinking of you” and, “I hear you” buttons to let someone know that they’re not alone. Elefriends come from all walks of life and all have diverse experiences which they use to help others. When someone is struggling, there is always someone else there to hear. When someone has a good day, there’s someone else to cheer. Throughout the day, we keep an eye on the wall, reports and private messages.
The Elephant, in characteristic Elephant fashion, is quite wise! He often shares blogs, tips and ideas on how to take care of our minds with his friends. He gives out trunk hugs and often suggests a tea break when his friends are stressed. Elefriends are also great at helping each other when things are tough, even if it’s just by posting something distracting, like a word game or some relaxing pictures.
Every day as an Ele handler, I see conversations which save lives. We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes.
Please help us keep Elefriends a place where anyone can share, and be heard.