One of the Internet’s latest social networking sites, dimmi, is a mixture of Facebook and for people with mental illnesses or those acquainted with them to connect with others in the same boat.

“Dimmi” means “tell me” in Italian, and the site, launched in January 2011, is being marketed to college students, project manager Caio Peluffo said.

“When we are in college, away from home, it can be hard to deal with certain things,” Peluffo said, “Dimmi is here to help college students deal with personal issues that even sharing with best friends might feel awkward or embarrassing.”   

The dimmi project is a non-profit owned by Consolidated Shoe Company in Lynchburg, Virginia. It began in 2008 after one of the CSC leaders and family members died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gherig’s disease.

Peluffo said CSC created the site to help family and friends cope with their loss, and help others with diseases do the same.

“They wanted a place where families and friends could meet others alike and share emotions, experiences, frustrations, expectations and hope,” she said. “An advisory board was formed and this select group of people put together on paper an idea that today is dimmi: A social network to connect people who share something in common.”

The site is still in its initial development stages and has nearly 500 users.

UNM Student Health & Counseling Director Dr. Bev Kloeppel said she thinks the site is an interesting idea because many outlets currently available for support are through associations that focus on only one disease. For people with rare diseases, it can be hard to find support, but dimmi might be the place, she said.

“I think there are many advantages to connecting with people who are going through similar experiences,” Kloeppel said. “Expertise in managing the disease and managing the medical system sometimes can be obtained from those people who have experienced it themselves, not to mention the emotional support.”