Melinda McKeown has been helping people in the Illawarra battle anxiety and depression for the past six years, but this month she has reached more than 4000 people worldwide.
The counsellor from Balgownie recently created the Facebook page ‘‘Counselling for Life’’. The page provides people with the opportunity to share stories, talk, and ask for, and receive, advice for themselves or a loved one.
‘‘I thought the Facebook page would be a good idea because there’s not much interactive support on the internet,’’ Ms McKeown said.
‘‘I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where everyone could come and no-one is inferior, embarrassed or ashamed.’ Sharing experiences is empowering and the page is quite interactive.’’
The Facebook page that popped up in cyberspace just over a month ago has 4732 ‘‘likes’’ and more than 88,000 people ‘‘talking about this’’. People from Tasmania to Sweden and Africa are jumping online to access the page.
To keep the atmosphere positive, Ms McKeown will ask people to share one good thing that happened over the weekend or will throw in an inspirational message.
‘‘The positive is always there, but it is hard to find when you are depressed,’’ she said.
In 2010, Ms McKeown published self-help book My Little Book of Hope. The book shares information on understanding and overcoming stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
‘‘I had suffered from anxiety and depression for most of my life,’’ she said.
‘‘I taught myself how to recover and thought I’d like to share. So I went off and did it.’’