'I Want to Be Stepping in More' - Professional Online Forum Moderators' Experiences of Supporting Individuals in a Suicide Crisis

Perry, Amanda and Lamont-Mills, Andrea ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9109-3462 and du Preez, Jan ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2077-3524 and du Plessis, Carol (2022) 'I Want to Be Stepping in More' - Professional Online Forum Moderators' Experiences of Supporting Individuals in a Suicide Crisis. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13:863509. pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

Introduction: Individuals experiencing suicidal crises increasingly turn to online mental health forums for support. Support can come from peers but also from online moderators, many of whom are trained health professionals. Much is known about users' forum experiences; however, the experiences of professional moderators who work to keep users safe has been overlooked. The beneficial nature of online forums cannot be fully realized until there is a clearer understanding of both parties' participation. This study explored the experiences of professional online forum moderators engaged in suicide prevention. Materials and Methods: A purposive sample of professionally qualified moderators was recruited from three online mental health organizations. In-depth semi-structured, video-recorded interviews were conducted with 15 moderators (3 male, 12 female), to explore their experiences and perceptions of working in online suicide prevention spaces. Data was analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Five themes were identified related to the experiences and challenges for moderators. These were the sense of the unknown, the scope of the role, limitations of the written word, volume of tasks, and balancing individual vs. community needs. Discussion: Findings indicate that the professionally qualified moderator role is complex and multifaceted, with organizations failing to recognize these aspects. Organizations restrict moderators from using their full therapeutic skill set, limiting them to only identifying and re-directing at-risk users to crisis services. The benefits of moderated online forums could be enhanced by allowing moderators to use more of their skills. To facilitate this, in-situ research is needed that examines how moderators use their skills to identify at-risk users.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current – Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology and Wellbeing (1 Jan 2022 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - No Department (1 Jul 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2022 04:34
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2022 02:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: moderators; suicide; online forums; internet
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420302 Digital health
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320221 Psychiatry (incl. psychotherapy)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200409 Mental health
20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200305 Mental health services
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.863509
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/50512

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