The Keys to Understanding Mental Health Information Online
It seems to me that we turn to the digital landscape for pretty much everything these days. From ordering groceries to learning how to fix anything at home, the internet and apps have become our go-to place for being efficient and keeping up with the fast pace of the lives we all operate. Mental health is no stranger to the digital world, and people often turn to technology to support their mental wellbeing. You can look up any symptom, hear people’s own stories around mental health, or download an app to help you with whatever feelings you may be dealing with.
I get asked often “is the digital space helping or hurting mental health?”. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. What is clear is that digital connectivity provides exciting possibilities that are still being explored. Yet, with hundreds of resources online and countless tools to help understand or improve your mental health, it’s important to know what truly is the best-in-class content, and we all need to think critically about the information we find.
When you’re reviewing information related to mental health online, here are some do’s and dont’s:
- Do research the company providing the information or specific resource. It’s helpful to understand the organization’s background which includes everything from their leaders to their mission. Does their content align with their mission statement? If they are a non-profit, do they have a 501(c) or 501c3? Perhaps check out their social media channels to better understand the organization. Partnership programs are also a good way to understand an organization’s place in the market. For example, having a partnership program often means that content has been validated by people outside the organization.
- Similar to your physical health, don’t use the information you find online to self diagnose. Most of us at some point or another have gone down the black hole of looking up symptoms online which often ends up doing more harm than good. The same holds true for your mental health.
- Do reach out to the organization on social media or through another contact form if you have any questions about how they create their resources. Organizations in the mental health space are typically happy to answer questions about how their content is curated or researched. For example, at Psych Hub we love telling people that our video development process goes through 27 different touchpoints of clinical quality assurance before ever going live on our site.
- If you have concerns or need immediate assistance do reach out to your physician or licensed mental health provider. We urge everyone to contact a professional if you are concerned about your mental health. While the digital space can be helpful for education it does not replace a licensed medical professional.
When the digital space is used for education, it can be a powerful tool that has the potential to make a significant impact in improving mental health knowledge across the world. Through educating consumers either on what apps to download or about symptoms and treatment options, we can create a meaningful movement.
Both Psych Hub and PsyberGuide are committed to making sure our audiences have access to information that is evidence-based and clinically sound. Through the work of PsyberGuide, we are able to navigate the plethora of digital mental health tools, with a deeper understanding of what is and isn’t credible. Psych Hub’s free online library of over 100 videos on mental health, substance use and suicide prevention topics, is another way we leverage the internet.
We are excited to partner with PsyberGuide in their commitment to providing people with transparent and reliable information and believe we can work together to change the current mental health landscape.