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House rules

Welcome to Elefriends. The Ele - your host - hopes you'll feel safe and at home here. He's put together a few tips to help you get settled in. He'll also explain what you can expect of the Ele and his handlers, as well as your fellow elefriends.

Elefriends will:

  • Ask as well as give – we all need a helping hand from time to time
  • Treat others the way we would like to be treated
  • Respect each other's privacy and keep conversations between elefriends within the ele community
  • Be considerate of other elefriends- please don't use animated gifs or images which could cause visual disturbances, as they can cause problems for elefriends with visual issues and epilepsy
  • Let the Ele know if we see something that worries us by reporting a post or private message
  • Use the community safely, and reach out for offline support if we think we might need more urgent help

Elefriends won't:

  • Tell people what to do or give 'expert' advice – there's rarely one answer to a problem
  • Use Elefriends to promote commercial services
  • Post anything which is racist, homophobic, sexist or transphobic or perjorative about specific mental health conditions
  • Make personal attacks or harass other elefriends
  • Share personal contact details (this includes links to Facebook or other social media profiles)
  • Swearing or offensive language (including suggested swearing through symbols or images of swear words) – the Ele has rather sensitive ears
  • Post sexual content or innuendo- as this kind of content can be unsafe or upsetting for other elefriends. This includes images and profile pictures.
  • Post or share images about about things that could be upsetting for others, for example details of abuse, violence, self harm, or suicide plans. See the Ele's note on posting safely
  • Use private messages inappropriately- eg sharing sexual content, soliciting for personal details, or sharing suicidal plans. It's also best not to offer crisis support via private messaging- remember to take care of your own mind first, and you can report worrying PMs to the Ele. Using private messages inappropriately can mean we need to suspend your account.

The Elephant and his handlers will:

  • Respect your confidentiality. What you share here is between you and Mind. We would only tell someone else (for example, by calling 999) if you were at risk of serious harm and shared your name and location with us, or if someone else was at risk of serious harm. You can find out more about when we might need to pass information on in our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Review all reports and private messages sent to the Ele's inbox, and do what we can to help
  • Take your concerns seriously - Elefriends is yours, and we want you to feel safe and supported here
  • Where possible, read all posts and comments, and remove anything which breaks the house rules or leaves the community feeling unsafe. We may give you feedback to help you post safely
  • Do our best to resolve any technical problems as quickly as possible

The Elephant and his handlers won't:

  • Trample on your conversations - the Ele and his handlers may need to pop in from time to time, but this is your space to talk about what's on your mind. Private messages stay private, unless an elefriend tells us that they're worried
  • Pass on your details or use your information for anything else unless we have your permission. We may contact the emergency services if you tell us that you're unsafe, and give us enough details to locate you
  • Be able to respond to reports or messages from 2am-6am, when we're not moderating.

Tips on posting safely

The Ele encourages his friends to write openly and honestly about their experiences. With some topics, like thoughts of self harm or suicide, the Ele and his handlers ask his friends to be mindful of the following:

  • It's ok to share thoughts and feelings around self harm and suicide. But please avoid graphic descriptions or images, or detail about methods.
  • If you're feeling very unsafe, please consider contacting your mental health team, the Samaritans (116 123 / jo@samaritans.org), or the emergency services first. Elefriends may worry that you need more urgent help than they can give.
  • It's ok to share thoughts and feelings about food, eating and drinking. But please avoid numbers of calories, measurements, amounts of food eaten, images of weight loss or detail about methods of gaining or losing weight. The Ele finds this guidance from Time to Change useful.
  • We know a lot of elefriends might struggle with issues such as addiction or alcohol abuse. It's fine to seek support, but please do avoid specifics about quantities or details about illegal drug use
  • If you feel worried or uncertain, Mind has some information about staying safe online that you might find helpful.
  • Learn more about removing posts or private messages you don't want to see.

Taking care of your own mental health

If things are tough for you right now, reach out to the elefriends to get it off your chest. But it's also important to think about whether you might need more urgent support or to talk to someone face to face. Here are some tips on staying well online.

  • Try not to take on too much – extend the same kindness to yourself as to other elefriends
  • It can be hard supporting other elefriends. See our tips on what to do if you're worried about another elefriend.
  • Take breaks – talking online can be overwhelming, try not to feel under pressure to respond if you need time
  • Think about what you're comfortable sharing – elefriends like hearing how you're doing, but sharing too much can leave you feeling vulnerable. You can remove posts or private messages you don't want to see.
  • Urgent support – if you're not feeling safe or it's all too much, contact the Samaritans (116 123 / jo@samaritans.org), call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department. The 'I need help' icon at the top of the page can also help you to explore your options.