Let’s drill in on the particular digital mental health application of online portals & social communities. Since the inception of the internet in the mid 90’s to the popularity of online social media in the 2000s, these have been staples of digital and online experiences. Note that even as mobile rules, it is largely just a ubiquitous extension of the former.
In health, they perform across the care continuum as means of education & service delivery, as well as player interaction and community support. They have, and continue, to facilitate prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery in their respective manners.
A few special role these solutions play in the mental health area are in a) addressing stigma, and b) providing anonymous & asynchronous education and support.
Online Platforms Fight Stigma
In the first instance, all the time, there are online anti-stigma campaigns happening somewhere in the world. Also, increasingly online news carries and amplifies reports of those we respect owning up to their mental health challenges, sometime with fortunate, other times cautionary, results. This increased present stands to have a net positive results on society’s attitudes. Time will tell how sustainable this is.
Online Platforms Provide Anonymous Education & Support
In the second instance, these platforms have not only made mental health information and resources and peers more available than ever, but it has given us all the ability to get help anonymously, thus avoiding the stigma and shame of disclosure. I acknowledge that the information’s quality can vary as well as population’s knowledge of, and readiness to use these platforms, resulting in limited effect. This is an opportunity for us to get better at understanding how to convert inventory to use.
Popular examples of these offerings are: Big White Wall, a popular UK portal on mental wellness, PsychCentral, a US based mental health social network, PsychologyToday, a US-based consumer-oriented publisher on things psychological, Inspire.com, a US based social media education/support platform housing a broad range of health communities, if-me.org, an open source project that provides space for the sharing of mental health experiences, NIMH, the US’ National Institute on Mental Health website, and there are many others which I lack space to note here. It is also worth noting that in addition to solutions that are specific to mental health, you will also find a multitude of mental health support/advocacy groups and communities on the popular social media platforms, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn (yes, of a professional nature), etc.
I will stop here for this post so as not to belabour your attention. Next post I will continue this. unpacking with mobile apps, sensors and algorithms. Meanwhile, thanks for sending information about your favorite mental health online platforms and social communities, spreading word about The Digital Mental Health Project, and participating in the Digital Stress Management Survey. Also, please subscribe to receive our postings in your inbox.