What I Learned After Running a Mental Health Discord for 1 year (Behind the scenes look)
My psychiatrist handed me a thick, brown envelope, signifying that my evaluations and interviews were over. He updated my diagnosis and wrote down his conclusive findings. The second I was back in the waiting room, I tore the envelope open and flipped to the back of the page, where my diagnosis was listed.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD). Schizoaffective (bipolar type). Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Chronic alcohol abuse.
It felt like a death sentence.
And eventually, I felt acceptance. I held my head high and moved forward, knowing that I will have to be extra mindful and more cautious about how I interacted with others.
I started my journey to get help, outside of therapy and medication.
Finding my own support system
Reddit was my substitute for social media, after I deleted my personal Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I lurked in subreddits specific to my mental health disorders and eventually, I discovered Discord.
Discord is a chat platform (much like old school AOL/MSN messenger) that targets gamers. Yet, there is a small specialization carved within the Discord community specifically for those living with mental health disorders.
I fell in love with the first Discord server I joined, though in proper BPD fashion, I fell out of love just as quickly.
I remembered being told I was too much. My opinions were too crass and my openness with my sexuality was uncomfortable for too many people.
Did I break any rules? No. But my specific brand of mental illness was deemed too conflicting for me to stay.
So I left and joined another one, where I was welcomed with open arms until I was bullied out for not being a part of the inner circle or “clique.”
This isn’t to say that I’m faultless here. I found spaces that were for mental health disorders that worked for many people. I’m not going to downplay the GREAT work and the amount of lives these places have touched, including mine.
But one thing was certain: These places were not for me, and there was no place for me.
So I created my own.
The birth of house of Misfits
On this day, a year ago, I grabbed a handful of friends I made over Discord from the past year.
We all had something in common: We were the outcasts of our communities.
And we were all fighters of what we passionately believed in.
So we banded together and I created House of Misfits.
Things That Went wrong
It’s been a full year filled with high’s and low’s but overall, it was a great learning experience.
Mistake #1 - Putting my friends in positions of power.
In hindsight, this was damn obvious.
Someone could be a great friend but an awful co-worker with shit work ethic, right?
So, logically, someone could be a good friend of mine but it doesn’t mean they’d run my Discord per the same values and perspective I have.
(Note: It doesn’t mean they’re wrong, necessarily, but their intentions did not align with mine. That’s a problem.)
In the beginning, a lot of friendships got messed up because of disagreements.
These days, I’ve defined what each role is and accept volunteers to take on those roles within a specific standard. That way, there’s no gray area for what is or isn’t okay under these roles.
Mistake #2 - Saying “yes” to too many ideas.
There was a point I hated House of Misfits.
I said “yes” to so many ideas that my server didn’t feel like home anymore.
It felt generic. Empty. Like trying to do too many things badly rather than one thing well.
Eventually, I did an entire overhaul of the server to keep only things that helped us move towards helping people with mental health struggles and removing things that didn’t fit.
Moving forward, I only consider ideas that benefit the server in the long run rather than just making changes for the sake of it.
It pisses a lot of people off that their opinion wasn’t implemented, but I gotta keep the future of the server in the forefront of my mind first.
Mistake #3 - Playing favorites and turning a blind eye to their abuse of power.
I made assumptions that some people were inherently “good” and mentally excused them for questionable things that they do.
Some people are great at playing the victim and man, do I eat that shit up.
A huge mistake I made was assuming that certain people could do no wrong, and I didn’t realize how many people had been hurt or bullied by them but I was blind to it through my rose-colored lenses.
Which led to a historic event in the server that my smart-ass members call my “Thanos Snap” moment. After realizing how badly my friends on staff were treating the members and even talking smack about me behind my back, I banned more than half of the staff and started from scratch.
Now I have a solid Human Resources team that investigates all instances of staff misconduct, so I’m not working with solely my sometimes-very-wrong opinion of others.
Things that went right
Not everything went to shit.
There were definitely many “wins” throughout the past year.
Great Decision #1 - Making a website.
We hit #1 in Google rankings for specific keywords after 3 months of having a website. Having a website, alone, set us apart from many other mental health Discords who relied solely on Discord listings and poaching from other servers.
Our website also shows people that we’re legit, we’re serious about what we’re doing, and we’re planning to stay. We’re investing money, time, and effort into creating a sustainable community.
People also reached out to me and asked if they could link to our Discord. It’s a little weird for them to directly link to our Discord server (especially if the other person doesn’t already know what Discord is) but it made more sense for them to have a website to link to.
Great Decision #2 - Specializing in a group of people.
There are so many mental health Discord servers out there.
Personally, I see dozens when I do a search on a Discord listing site.
None of them really stand out from the other because they all tote the same thing- “We’re a supportive mental health Discord.”
What gave House of Misfits an advantage is that we aren’t trying to fix the world of mental illness or even cater to everyone struggling with mental health issues.
I designed the mental health Discord and the website to specifically appeal to outcasts.
Within ten seconds, people can make a snap judgment whether they feel like they belong with the name “misfits” or if it’s not for them.
This helped us create a community that for the most part, gets along, and can find similarities with each other.
Great Decision #3 - Implementing the verification system.
To access our mental health Discord, you have to either show a selfie or a blacked out version of your ID that has your birthday on it.
The reason we implemented this is because we were having issues with people preying on our members. This included pedophiles, sexual predators, financial scammers, psych students wanting to “study” the members, or trolls spamming gore/porn.
On top of that, banned members who have harassed, stalked, or otherwise abused the members would come back on alt accounts to bypass their ban.
The verification system made sure that people who were abusive can’t come back.
Also, we noticed that once anonymity is gone, people are less likely to act like a jackass and tell you to “go kill yourself,” or other crappy things like that.
Plans for 2019
Right now, my main focus is either turning House of Misfits into a nonprofit in North Carolina or getting “adopted” or merging with a current nonprofit.
The end goal is to help our members who can’t afford their initial mental health diagnosis, to get an evaluation so they can have a starting point for their recovery.
I also want to start sharing the stories of our members and creating a contributor-based community within the House of Misfits website.
We’ll see what happens within the next 12 months.
If you’ve stuck with us thus far, hey, thanks for being a part of the family.