The Brighton Anxiety Forum Story

BAF - Peer Support Group - SussexBAF has been running for 3 years now, currently has 430 registered members of our online forum and a regular support group attendance of between 8 and 21 people. Here's a little bit about how we got to this point:

I first became 'unwell' in 2003 when anxiety, depression, panic attacks and agoraphobia very suddenly dominated my life. It seemed as if I was going mad and I felt very isolated. In July 2007 I decided that I wanted to do something about it and B.A.F. was born.

I had seen other national and international anxiety internet forums; they were great but I could also see how they might encourage people to stay at home on their computers. This point was illustrated by the friendships that formed between people from opposite ends of the country: they were supporting each other through understanding and shared experience but where could this lead? I felt that in the longer term, these relationships were not always as positive as they could be.

Okay, so what if we could take this idea and move it to a more local setting, where people could meet online, see just how many other people felt the same way and maybe even encourage each other to meet in person; to leave the house and form meaningful, 'real life' and hopefully therapeutic relationships?

People with anxiety and especially those with social anxiety find social situations and meeting new people difficult so the forum helps people to get acquainted before making the often daunting step of attending one of our meets.

Who do we seek to help?

Brighton Anxiety Forum helps people who have experience the whole range of anxiety conditions among which are panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder and social anxiety.

Brighton Anxiety Forum aims to:

  • Lessen the isolation that many anxiety sufferers experience
  • Offer help and information on anxiety issues
  • Allow people to document and share their experiences of anxiety
  • Facilitate interaction/peer support between sufferers of similar conditions
  • To be accessible to all of our members irrespective of their anxiety
  • To be non-commercial and independent
  • To be as sustainable as possible
  • To provide a bridge to normal living – bridging the gap between other more formal services and social re-integration

 

How does Brighton Anxiety Forum do this?

At BAF’s core is the online website/forum. Search engine optimisation means that we’re easy to find with an internet search engine or in print in the MIND directory or the ESCIS system available in all Sussex libraries.

The benefits of the forum are: 

  • Our large membership gives some impression of just how prevalent anxiety conditions are in Brighton, Hove and East Sussex
  • Allows casual browsers to view the content of the forum
  • Allows those that want to become members to post and reply to posts on the forum and send private messages
  • The online aspect of what we do allows people to have a voice, in their own time and on their terms when they perhaps aren’t comfortable with other ways of interacting
  • Facilitates peer support
  • Helps members to become acquainted so that they may feel more comfortable with the idea of attending our regular ‘meets’ and meeting in person

Our Meets

The other main aspect of what we do is the BAF ‘meets’. We currently meet weekly in an informal cafe setting where people can talk openly about anxiety issues, socialise and form supportive friendships. Occasionally, we substitute the usual venue for a local, cheap, curry buffet.

Funding

Brighton anxiety forum is run on a shoestring budget. We accept contributions towards the website's running costs and the shortfall is made up by me. Costs have been kept deliberately low so as to be as sustainable as possible for the future. 

www.brightonanxietyforum.com