Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dating Website for Mentally Ill Singles

In this society, it's too easy to ignore people with mental illness. And it's way too easy to assume that their needs for affiliation and intimacy are absent or foreign. Someone, who knows better, came up with a great idea for helping people with mental illness find each other - for a few dates or for life.

Dating Website Matches Mentally Ill Singles

Albuquerque, N.M. -- Lynne has someone to spend Christmas and New Year's with this year. And that's unusual.

"It's been a long time since I've been with anybody for the holidays," the 50-year-old Albuquerque native said recently. "That was different."

Many people find dating stressful. But, for Lynne, who was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental disorders at 19, dating invariably ends in disaster.

But about a month ago, Lynne began seeing a 53-year-old man she met through a dating Web site designed specifically for people with mental illness.

The site — — was launched last year by an Albuquerque social worker to help people like Lynne find healthy relationships.

"The Web site, because it caters to people with mental illness, you go in knowing that up front," Lynne said. "It makes communication a lot easier. You don't feel threatened by what the other person might think."

Lynne was married once, briefly. But relationships were more likely to aggravate her mental problems than improve them.

"I've been single most of my life for that reason," she said.

Elizabeth Barrett, who created the site with a partner in Denver, Colo., said she observed from her work with people with mental illness that those in strong relationships are more likely to thrive.

"They tend to do better," Barrett said. "They tend to stay out of the hospital." Couples in which both partners struggle with mental illness can share their experiences and help keep each other out of trouble. "You have somebody to throw your ideas off of."

Barrett, 30, has worked with the mentally ill in a variety of settings, including the Bernalillo County jail and an Albuquerque psychiatric clinic. She now works in several New Mexico schools, from elementary through high school.

Users can post as much, or as little, information as they like. Many list the nature of their illnesses. Lynne said she and her new companion exchanged about 100 emails before the two met for the first time.

"We've been seeing quite a bit of each other," Lynne said.

Does she see a future for the relationship? "Maybe. For now, it's good companionship.


Dr. Deb said...

I like this idea. Gets stigma out of the way.

Anonymous said...

well, if you're disabled u have it pretty tough in the dating game but there are specialist dating sites for disabled people