Empowering Wikimedians: Creating a Mental Health Resource Center for Emotional Wellbeing and Support

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A small wooden pier surrounded by clumps of grass on the right and water on the left is lit up by the light of the setting sun. The sky is full of wispy clouds with hills and trees visible in the distance on the water's edge.

A reflection of Nicky Deluggi on her internship with the Human Rights Team at the Wikimedia Foundation.

I joined the Wikimedia Foundation as an intern on the Human Rights Team in December 2022. I had graduated from a Master’s in Human Rights a few months before and was equally nervous and excited about my first gig in the real world. For my first month or so, I disappeared into a rabbit hole of wiki-articles and shared documents, trying to wrap my head around Wikimedia Foundation and the fascinating community it supports. I was amazed by how much this movement gets done – often for so little recognition – and how much good, joy and passion it brings.

At the same time, I was heartbroken at the price some Wikimedians pay for contributing to the sum of all human knowledge: many face persecution, censorship, surveillance, arrests and threats. Others deal with harassment and disturbing content on a daily basis, on top of the stress and workload that comes with keeping the projects accurate, functioning and safe. 

As my team was supporting a persecuted Wikimedian, a thought was brought up to us: “We are building up workflows to protect community members and support their physical and legal safety. But what about when someone’s activity as a Wikimedian affects their emotional safety and wellbeing?” If we want to progress towards a safe and sustainable movement, extensive and accessible resources on psychosocial support and overall well being are non-negotiable.

Having had an interest in sustainable activism for quite a while, I felt drawn to get in on this cause. I started reaching out to colleagues who had worked on community mental wellbeing before. All of them met me with curiosity, warmth and great advice on how to narrow down my ideas into an actually feasible project. We ended up with a plan for a new resource page on Meta-Wiki, collecting all existing Wikimedia Foundation resources on mental wellbeing topics and stocking up on new ones. Thus, the Mental Health Resource Center was born! Here are some of the considerations and challenges that shaped its design:

The page needs to be easy to find and easy to use.
When going through a hard time, looking for help can be a lot. The page will therefore be centralized and accessible, with information displayed sorted by topic or language, and a glossary on mental health terms.

Resources need to cover a wide range of topics.
Besides listing emergency support resources and helplines, the page will include material on mental health in general, stress management, trauma, grief, dealing with harassment and disturbing content and how to support others who are going through a hard time. These thematic categories are not final – they can and should be expanded! (see below)

There is the challenge of multilinguality and multiculturality.
Inner wellbeing can mean different things to different people. Depending on individual and cultural predispositions, mental health can create stigma. It can be a political act. It can be connected to spirituality or to bodily biochemical imbalances. In true wiki-fashion, the usefulness of this project depends on contributions from different backgrounds, aiming to create a multilingual and multicultural information hub that is not limited to one conception of mental wellbeing. Community members are encouraged to add to the page, and here’s how it works!

  1. Take a look at the checklist on the talk page and check your resource against the standards listed there.
  2. If it is a match, suggest your resource via talk page or email to ca{{@}}wikimedia.org. Also feel free to propose new resource categories, glossary terms and leave feedback on how we can improve the page. 
  3. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Trust and Safety team will review and add resources and updates on a quarterly basis. 

Why do we recommend adding resources in this way? The Trust and Safety team will be reviewing the resources and information before it is placed on the Mental Health Resource Center pages. They will make sure the site is reputable and able to handle the traffic of such a large community. 

How you can get involved

There are three things you can do:

  1. Take a look at the page and share it with others who might be interested. Encourage them to do the same – sharing the Mental Health Resource Center page will make sure it’s there for those who need it.
  2. Send the link to someone who might need some support right now. Sometimes the Internet can be a lonely place and fighting for free knowledge is hard work.
  3. Contribute to the space and help it grow! This space is for the care and support of everyone in our movement. This project is just a starting point, and is certainly not complete. It needs more global contributions. What contributions are helpful? You can contribute helpful mental health-related websites, mental health helplines, terms to the glossary or topic areas that need expansion. Or something I didn’t think about here.

As this project launches, I am slowly closing the myriad of browser tabs I accumulated while working on this project. It is becoming very clear to me that while this idea grew, I too grew a lot with it. I am beyond happy I got a chance to create a resource that will hopefully support the inspiring individuals who make up this movement. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, especially to Jackie for being my super competent partner, Nhu for always giving me structure and Cameran and the Human Rights Team for supporting and trusting me with this project.

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