Anxiety United Mental Health Network
I don't know what was more off-putting - the blatant money making commerciality or the substance and presentation of the videos!
Here's what I discovered.
The webiste has been created by a young man, Billy Cross, who clearly suffers from anxiety disorders and whilst his attempt to help others would be commendable if he were recovered and if he could offer something that actually benefits other patients, or if the resources he provided were helpful or even just uplifting, but they are not.
Many of the resources we found on his website were extremely unnerving and unproductive.
The focus is always on Billy Cross, which feels more about ego than about providing a useful resource. Any other on-site resources are either blatant advertising or links to other resources; mostly UK based National Health Service or Charity reources which also offer little by way of useful information.
The name suggests that Anxiety United is a resource for Mental Health but mental health is only very superficially touched on within this website and the name may mislead people into believing that the organisation has professional affiliation or even professionally qualified staff. It appears to have neither. It also falls short of being a network. Anxiety United appears to be more of a membership group than a network.
Depression, brain injury, dementia, psychosis and other mental illnesses are not discussed at all; the main focus seems to be on anxiety, which is a behavioural condition. Resources like these can be very misleading and may cause people who require appropriate mental healthcare from finding it, which is worrying.
Disturbing Images and Subject-matter
The clear focus on cannabis based substances was, more than, worrying and so misleading, especially given that the website is open to viewing by young people. It doesn't take much to imagine a young person reaching for cannabis as a result of seeing the multiple graphics and inappropriate focus on substances including photos of the site owner with smoke billowing from his mouth. I find images like this both distasteful but also highly inappropriate given that there are no clear warnings or age restrictions evident.
Cannabis and its resultant products, has been shown to cause anxiety and as a gateway drug, lead to addiction to other drugs and substances.
Uncomfortable Video Materials
The website owner seems keen to focus on himself, his own suffering and to record some pretty unsettling videos featuring himself. The tone and language used is uncomfortable and unprofessional; I understand what he is trying to achieve, but my feeling is, it falls very short of being useful to other people.
Personally, I would not expose my patients to this material; I find it to be misguided in its content, but moreover, inappropriate and emotionally disturbing in parts.
Biased and Naive Views Undermine Professional Care Provision
On this page: https://anxietyunited.com/the-truth-about-anxiety-panic-attack-cure-programs/ Billy Cross seems keen to focus on the commerciality of legitimate mental health provisions stating something along the lines of 'if someone has a cure, they should give it away free of charge'; what is most odd about this logic is that Billy Cross shamelessly uses his 'anxiety resource' as a platform for affiliate sales and commissions and clearly has no knowledge of the management or costs of running a professional mental health facility.
These naive and biased views are evident throughout the pages I reviewed.
This is clearly a case of either, ignorance, or a need to undermine other, much more professionally supervised anxiety resources and programs. If Billy is charitable, why does he make advertising money from his website?
I followed a link to Billy Cross' YouTube account and having watched a small selection of his videos came to the conclusion that he is publicly living out a personal journey in which he pokes fun and yet, clearly, suffers; it all feels a little like the blind leading the blind.
I spoke to my own web developer and he called Anxiety United 'click bait' and having just googled the term, have found that it is an accurate description of Anxiety United's website.
Click bait is online content with the main purpose to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page in order to earn affiliate fees or some other benefit.
It is clear that Anxiety United uses marketing tactics to gain traffic which then encourages visitors to view adverts and products, presumably these are product sales that Billy Cross then benefits from.
This website seems not to be the imaprtial resource it purports to be.
I understand why people who suffer with anxiety disorders seek reassurance, it is a vital element of the flight or fight response, but reassurance is extremely counter-productive to recovery and patients often find that researching, watching videos and discussing how they feel makes them feel far worse.
I have, over the years, heard horror stories about people following unregulated advice and it worries me enormously that a young person may become disillusioned or even suicidal from watching or reading content that has not been professionally administered or created by a trained professional.
I cannot see anything of value on Anxiety United's website and it troubles me greatly that people might be misled to believe that watching the videos or following the advice might help them.
Anxiety United Mental Health Network is Not a Replacement for Professional Guidance
It would be remiss of me not to mention the importance of seeking the professional guidance of trained professionals, not of untrained people who create websites.
Billy Cross may, in his own mind, have good intentions and it is not unusual for sufferers to believe that they have enough knowledge to help others, but in this case, in my opinion, that is not delivered. I also struggled to understand the content as much of it was garbled and not at all informative or interesting.
This sort of resource can mislead and misinform patients quite substantially.
My view is that Anxiety United should not be used by people with any form of anxiety condition and they should seek out professional guidance from trained mental health practitioners instead.
Anxiety United review by Dr. Janette J Brennan. NPADnews.com May 2018
Star Rating 2/20
|Value for money||0 Stars|
Anxiety United Reviewed - Dr Janette Brennan