Protecting your mental health on the Online Community

A woman pouring tea into a blue patterned teacup on a rustic wooden table.

The Online Community is a big source of support for lots of members. It can be a comfort to read that other members are going through a similar experience to you. However, it’s important to look after yourself online. Sometimes we may need different types of support depending on how we’re feeling. Sometimes it can be difficult to read posts where other people are talking about their experiences, even if those experiences are similar to yours. We want you to feel you can be honest and use the Online Community in the best way for you. We’re here today to talk about how you can look after your wellbeing online. We’re also going to talk about ways you can be mindful of other members’ mental wellbeing.

“Everyone can be affected by a cancer diagnosis in so many ways.”

Ask a nurse

How can you look after your mental health?

The Online Community is a safe place to find support. Talking about what you’re going through can be a way to support your mental health. However, it’s important to find what feels right for you when it comes to finding support. It’s ok if you prefer to only read posts on the site. It’s also ok if you need to take a break from the Online Community. We’re going through some tips which might help you make the most of the Online Community.

Remember everyone’s experience is different

It can be important when reading other people’s posts on the site, to remember that everyone’s experience with cancer is different. Other members may also be at a different stage in their experience with cancer. What another member has experienced may not be the same as what might happen for you, even if you are having the same treatment.

If you are worried about your diagnosis or treatment, we would always recommend contacting your GP or medical team. They will have access to your medical records, and they’ll be able to give you guidance and information. It’s important to remember your GP and medical team are there to support your mental wellbeing alongside your physical health.

“I'm definitely going to the worst case scenario for myself in every situation - I guess it's a protective mechanism so you can't be floored again by some new awful news but I can see it's not helpful in day to day life”

Community member, "Living with incurable cancer - patients only" group

Explore the Online Community

Everyone can find different types of help useful. You can find support in lots of different ways here on the Online Community.

We have the ‘Ask an Expert’ section where you can talk to our Support Line professionals about any questions around your cancer experience. This includes our information and support team who can help you find further support options. We also have our nurses, who can advise on NHS processes and answer questions.

We also have Community News, where you're reading this blog. Did you know we have blogs on lot of different topics, from guest blogs written by people affected by cancer to recipes?

Take a break from being online

Sometimes, it may be helpful to take a break. There are lots of ways you can support yourself offline, for when you may find this helpful.

Why not read our blog on self-care? This includes lots of tips, and includes links to further resources.

“You'll notice from my posts on here that I'm a big advocate of self-care and taking time for yourself. It's not being selfish as a carer, its essential to help maintain my own sanity  and wellbeing.”

Community member, "Brain cancer" group

Changing your notifications

Did you know that you can change your notifications on the Online Community?

Sometimes it might be helpful to turn off notifications for a particular discussion. This could be for lots of reasons. It might be a topic that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried. Members can talk about all aspects of their experiences on the Online Community, but that doesn’t always mean that every individual member may want to discuss certain topics.

You can also turn off notifications from the Online Community completely, which means you can just see posts when you go to the site and log in.

You can change your notification settings at any time depending on how you feel. This can help you to take a break if you need to. This can also help you to avoid conversations which you might not want to read.

We have step by step guides for how you can change your notification settings here in our Help section.

Reach out to the Community team

If you’ve been using the Online Community for a little while, you might have noticed we have a “Flag to moderator” button underneath every post on the site.

This is a button you can use to let us know if you have seen a post which has upset or concerned you. This button does also automatically remove content from view on the Online Community. The Community team will then review anything sent through to us based on the evidence and in accordance with our Community guidelines.

You can also contact us every day over email to community@macmillan.org.uk if you need any help finding the right support for you.

How can you help to support other people’s mental health?

No one on the Online Community is responsible for another member’s wellbeing. Everyone is here to find support in a way that works best for them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help other members on the Online Community if you would like to.

We see every day how much of a difference it can make when members support each other here on the Online Community. If you’d like to see some amazing examples of support, take a look at our blog on 2021 on the Online Community. How else might you be able to help other members here on the site?

Be considerate

It may be helpful to take a moment to consider where you are posting.

If you are replying in a discussion thread but you have a new question relating to your experience that is different to the topic in the discussion, you might like to create a new post. This can help both you and the person who first posted get the right support on the Online Community. You can create a new post in any group you’re a member of, by clicking “+New” or “+” in the top right corner next to the group title.

If you want to share a joke, it may be best for you to post in our “Laughter is the best medicine” group. This is a dedicated space to share jokes here on the site.

Reach out to other members

None of our members need to reply to any other post on the Online Community if they don’t feel able to do so. We know lots of our members benefit from the Online Community just through reading posts. It’s completely ok to use the site in a way that feels most comfortable.

Sometimes, you might feel able to do so but you don’t know what to say. Sometimes, just a “hello” message can go a long way to make someone feel welcome on the site. Why not try it next time you see an unanswered post?

“You've been my support, whether directly or just through me reading your posts about yourselves etc. I seriously couldn't have done it without this forum.”

Community member, “Breast cancer” group

Let the Community team know

You can email us at community@macmillan.org.uk confidentially every day if you are worried about another member’s wellbeing. Our team can’t always read everything on the Online Community. This can mean it can be really helpful if you let us know if you see someone who may need further support.

What do you do to look after your mental health online? Let other members know your tips by commenting below.

Read more around mental wellbeing:

Anonymous
  • It’s SOOOOOO frustrating when you type a lengthy post and  the site refuses to post it! Talk about mental health? This site is FAR worse since the downtime last week! 

  • Hi moomy,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced some frustration using the site. We have communicated with you elsewhere to discuss this further.

    If you experience any further problems using the site or if you would like to provide any feedback about the Online Community, please email us at community@macmillan.org.uk or post in our Technical Help space. This will allow us to do our best to help you.

    I hope you found our blog helpful to read, and please feel welcome to share any thoughts on this blog or what helps you look after yourself in the comments here.

    Best wishes,

    Eliza

    Macmillan Community team

  • Today not a good day I usually feel strong beat positive outset I have stage 4 terminal lung cancer I'm 51 3 grandchildren since diagnosed in July I used to have my grandkids now it feels like there scared to be around me my son don't phone ask how I am as he finds it to hard so he gives me the cold shoulder as for his own mental health that's how he copes but I then feel like he don't care not even seen him all over Christmas since yesterday and he just acts like it's OK yo be his way I don't say anything as don't want conflict he also is using cocane badly I'm finding this hard to deal with aswell as copeing with not been able to work and adjustments yo my new life at home I have a amazing husband husband and family sister who are always there for me  just sometimes worry about dyeing and missing others wen really should be strong anyone else have these days also been on strong serious since October had liver damage with immunotherapy and I have put so much weight on I don't recognise myself but on a new liver tablet so slowly get weaned off 

  • Hi 

    Thank you for reaching out, I'm Eliza from the Community team. I'm glad you've talked to us about everything you're feeling today. I hope you don't mind that we've contacted you over email. 

    If you need to talk to someone, we’d really recommend talking to the Support Line. Our Support Line teams are here to listen and help, including helping you to access ongoing support. They’re available 7 days a week, 8am-8pm on freephone 0808 808 00 00email or live webchat. You can talk to our Support Line about everything you’re feeling at the moment. If when you read this email our Support Line teams aren’t available,  the Samaritans are available 24/7, providing confidential non-judgemental emotional support on 116 123, or by email on jo@samaritans.org.

    Please remember our Online Community is here for you too, and remember you can reach out in our discussion groups if you'd like to chat to other members. It can help to talk to other people who might really understand how you feel.

    You're not alone in how you're feeling. If we can do anything to help you feel supported, please let us know over email at community@macmillan.org.uk.

    Best wishes,

    Eliza

    Macmillan Community team

  • Hi Toniblade

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are having a tough time of it at the moment. I know it’s easy for me to say but sometimes you need to put yourself first and not worry about any one else. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer 16 months ago and while I am now in remission I have days when I struggle so you’re not alone.

    I really hope that thing improve for you soon and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they do.

    Best wishes

    Daisy53