For those of us coping with a mental illness, one of the most difficult things to do is reaching out to another person for support. Often our own fears get in the way, and for many of us, physical and financial limitations mean that finding any kind of outside support limits us to social networks and online forums where understanding can be hit or miss at best.
A few years ago, several Support Apps came along and offered a glimmer of hope that, finally, we would have a way to reach out and get the support we needed. For some, those apps have worked.
But for some, they have lacked something, that connection and understanding that can turn into friendship. And Friendship is where real, lifelong support comes from. I had lost hope in finding an app that could offer that with everyone so focused on the need for privacy first.
Then a gentleman named Sunil Modi approached me on August 15, 2016 about his own app.
With the disappointing history I have had, I didn’t get my hopes up, but we chatted briefly back and forth and I agreed to review his app for the site after seeing it was not simply another Anonymous Chat Support App.
Now a comically tragic thing here is that my own health issues kept getting in the way of my review, delaying it for more than six weeks, and Mr. Modi showed a tremendous amount of patience with both me and my illnesses, but I assure you this has not swayed my review of the app.
Where It Came From
Sunil Modi, the Creator of Reachout, dealt with a health scare in his own family when a close relative was diagnosed with acute heart disease and needed surgery. He looked for a platform where he could interact with other heart disease patients to get his questions answered, but nothing met his needs.
Right about here is where I pictured the ghost of some famous doctor whispering to him. “If you build it, they will download.” Because that’s just what he did. Well, after putting a lot of thought and energy into the project of course, and lot of help from his wife, Dr. Rashmi Jain, a pediatrician.
“We chose challenges that are life-threatening for patients. These are heart-disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, substance abuse, chronic pain, and death (grieving).”
Creator of Reachout
After a significant period of testing, the app was released in March, 2016. Since then, it has seen incredible growth with members from all over the globe. Members include patients, spouses, and family members. But an interesting thing has happened, Medical Professionals have approached Mr Modi and asked to take part in the various support groups, they are seeing doctors, nurses, cardiologists, diabetes educators, and nephrologists among those taking part.
Reachout currently has around 3200 users worldwide and is growing daily.
While not perfect, it is one of the best support apps I have seen. Most are Anonymous one-on-one connection chat apps which can be fine, and for many are just what they need. But to really connect with someone who understands what you are going through, it helps to know that they have been through something remotely close.
If you have just lost your Husband of 53 years and you are asking for support from a 14-year-old kid who has only ever lost his Pet Gold Fish Larry, how much real support and understanding can he offer?
But someone who has been through the loss of a spouse and has dealt with the grief, or is still dealing with the grief, understands the loss on a visceral level. They know where you are because they have been there. The ability with Reachout to connect and to follow other users means that you can make and keep these support relationships going for as long as they are helpful.
While the main feed serves everything together, selecting the filter icon lets you choose what “Challenges” or illnesses you wish to see in your feed. If you are dealing with Diabetes and Heart Disease along with your Mental Illness like I am, you can select all three topics. However, if on a particular day you are having more difficulty in one area, you can select just that topic and narrow your focus where you need. I saw supportive discussions on a wide variety of topics
Some glaring issues do stand out for me, however. One of those is of course, Mental Health Focused, and I know my own bias is coming into play here, but I would like to see specific Mental Illnesses listed instead of being lumped together. I do, however, understand the economy of space needed. We are talking about a 5-inch screen here, and the same issue is at play with Cancer and will have to be undertaken when he tackles other large illness groups.
Not only is this lacking “Child” as a standalone choice, but it also limits you to selecting only one option. Rarely, however. does a major illness in a family impact only one individual. Cancer not only affects the one with the illness, but often the caregiver suffers Depression as well.
Going beyond that, many families deal with multiple health issues spread among several family members.
Perhaps Mr. Modi will be able to address some of these issues in future updates, I feel this app will be around for a long time.
This app is well worth a look and a two-week test run to see how it feels for you. Whether you have been looking for a mobile depression support group or a diabetes support group or just about any kind of online support group for an illness to be honest, I believe that Reachout is a good solid place to look. My bet is that you’ll find someone you can get support from, and someone you can offer support to.
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