I've gotten some pretty good feedback about this site and I like the simple design. Its about time I made it easier to read - I'm surprised anyone stuck around with that white text on black nonsense honestly. The features you can implement with Drupal are seriously amazing - see those little share buttons down there? I am NOT websitedly talented and I managed to configure those in an hour or so. I kind of wish I hadn't said that now - pay no attention! This site was super hard to make and I am a GENIUS. Brilliant I tell you! Ahem.
So in my last post I mentioned a Panic Button, something I've been thinking about for a while as a game feature that also helps to build community spirit. It ties into that community XP idea I mentioned last time too. Here's the idea - in your game menu screen there is a little graphic that connects you to a virtual switchboard to talk to somebody. I call it a panic button only as a placeholder phrase, because I want it to be used for any level of support needed. So much of mental health care is catastrophe based because there aren't really resources available for anything else. We have emergency rooms and psych wards and crisis hotlines, what we really need are places for people to go and feel safe if they feel like they're heading towards crisis but aren't actually there yet. For a lot of us nerds, our safe place is on the Internet (as strange as that may sound) behind our computer screens, or in a game. So the idea is, you press the button and the game asks you what your level of "not ok" is, for which there could be three or so ratings.
Rating 1: Feeling very blue but not terribly crisis-like
Connects you to one of the community members (players) who not only have their helper avatar (or whatever) turned on but have a second setting where they are not actively playing but available. I think of it kind of like my SETI @home screensaver from back in high school It would processes space telescope data while I wasn't using my computer. Say you're just doing other things - mooking around the internet, knitting, watching Hulu or whatever. Some activity that can be interrupted by talking to someone in a bit of trouble. The game would connect the person pressing the button to one of these folks.
Rating 2: Approaching Crisis
This is where the semi-professionals would come in. This whole idea revolves around consulting with mental health professionals not only for the construction but also for active maintenance of the community. I would need several nerds who are also in psychiatric fields to donate some of their time to be available for Rating 2 calls. They don't have to be certified professionals - maybe interns on their way there, or community volunteers with experience. But they would be people a little more familiar with dealing with someone who might be getting towards crisis.
There's been a little progress in this area in the "Mundie World" as it were, in the form of Crisis Respite centers, which is kind of what I'm modelling this on. They're non-emergency clinics where you can go for 24 hours when you're approaching crisis to try to head it off before an emergency room visit is necessary. Now I'm not saying you should stay on Skype with someone for 24 hours because that would drive anyone nuts. But the person on the other end could work through a plan with you for the next 24 hours, check up on you periodically, even see if there's a crisis respite center close to you for you to have a safe place.
Rating 3: 911
Hopefully, with the other two ratings before this Rating 3 wouldn't have to be used a whole lot, but that is straight where it would go. No messing around, no "Are you sure?". This is for when someone's gone from Don't Give a Shit so far into Unable to Give a Shit that everyone and everything that cares about them in the world are selfish dicks for forcing them to continue an existence they don't want and never asked for. There would probably have to be consent forms involved, but the system would also forward your location to the 911 call center so they could find you even if you don't want them to. I know it sounds extreme, but there are people still in the world today because someone called 911 on them. Its important to have that step in place I think. Granted it would take them making a choice to push the button but sometimes that option is all you need.
Of course, as so many other things I would like to see, the success of a feature like this would revolve around community trust and responsibility. How that would play out in the real world I'm not entirely sure, but we all know that's not exactly where I live.
Ok, so I suppose I should talk about that Contact Form now. Why is it there? For what is its purpose? Well, even though I am neither a game designer nor a doctor, but just a crazy lady with a blog I figured there is something I can do. A very small thing, but a thing. That contact form is directed at an email address which I will check regularly and if, for any reason, you came to this page and need someone to vent to, fill out the form. Maybe you're just a little sad, maybe you're angry at the world, or maybe there's something you simply have to tell someone but you don't have anyone who will understand. Sometimes all a person needs is a stranger who gets it, and believe me I do. I can be that sympathetic stranger, and I swear I will listen and respond if anyone likes. You don't have to give me your name, and if you don't want a response you don't even have to give your email address. Doesn't have to be long or short or anything - I accept emails that are nothing but "Hey I could really use a picture of a red panda right now".
I will find a red panda and send it to you.
***The crazy lady with the blog would like to also point out that nothing told to her in an email will EVER end up on said blog unless specifically requested. Ever.