Sandpit launches platform aiming to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in regional Australia - Sandpit

Sandpit launches platform aiming to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in regional Australia

Press / 9 August 2016

An immersive tech company working out of ACMI’s new co-working space has launched a platform aiming to curb the high rates of suicide in farming communities across Australia.

The Ripple Effect enables farmers in regional towns to connect, chat, and share experiences anonymously to address issues like the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment.

Sandpit, which is a resident of ACMI X, developed the “online intervention” platform in collaboration with institutions like the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) and Deakin University for Beyond Blue’s STRIDE Project.

“The site is really about allowing people to share their own experiences and to connect with other people’s experiences,” Sandpit founder Sam Haren tells StartupSmart.

It’s not a crisis support service, but it does seek to provide an online place for people affected by suicide to safely share stories and not feel alone in their experiences, he says, and talking about suicide is one of the toughest challenges survivors and people affected by it face.

“We really hope that it takes a step in helping to break down the stigma around these kinds of issues,” Haren says.

With Australia losing seven people a day to suicide, the Ripple Effect actively seeks out and connects people in rural Australia who may be suffering in silence.

One of the key ways the Ripple Effect does this is by documenting and sharing real, lived experiences.

Recently, Haren and his team mailed out 10,000 postcards to farming communities, which asked recipients: If there was one thing you could share about suicide or its stigma, what would it be?

“A whole bunch of postcards came back and we were able to digitise those,” he says.

These stories were shared anonymously on the Ripple Effect and have been used in micro-documentaries.

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