Nowadays, most people turn to the internet for information and advice on health conditions. In most cases, people shy off speaking about it and seeking help. Instead, they prefer consulting Dr. Google as it appears more convenient and confidential. Unfortunately, not all information provided online is valid; some can be so vast that it causes more confusion.
Additionally, Google may not give you the root source of your issue. Therefore, it’d be best to look beyond Dr. Google for mental health advice. With that in mind, here are some tips for remaining level-headed and avoiding misinformation when researching mental health conditions online:
How to pick credible online mental health advice materials and vet them
Choosing credible online material goes a long way to ensure the advice you’re taking is reliable and won’t cause further harm. That said, here are some tips for picking one:
Establish where it was published
You may check the kind of website hosting mental health information. Some websites are trustworthy, and they offer genuine and quality information. To determine the type of website, check the last three letters of the web address, otherwise known as the domain extension. Some common domains are .com, .org, .gov, etc. The first one is the most common as it is a commercial website. Certainly, there are a lot of trusted .com websites you can rely on for mental health issues. However, be careful with personal blogs not run by credible organizations.
On the other hand, those ending in .gov are websites that are run by government entities. While those ending in .org are either run by non-profit organizations, companies, or certain individuals. Hence, these websites are more likely to be credible.
Identify the author
Before considering any mental health advice online, it’s good to determine the author’s credibility. Anybody can write an article and give their own opinions on mental health. By knowing the author’s qualifications, you’re sure of the quality of advice provided.
To determine the reliability of an author, check their expertise and experience on this topic. You can do this by searching their previous articles. If there’s a reference used, review that as well. Aside from examining the claims discussed in the article, keep an eye on the study dates as those are crucial in determining the article’s reliability.
Look for credible mental health sites
There are many online mental health resources. Some are reliable, and some are not. For that reason, ensure that your advice comes from a credible source. This ensures you’re taking the most accurate and reputable information that’s good for your general health. OpenMD.com provides a helpful directory of credible mental health resources.
To determine the credibility of an online resource, you can check the following:
- Authority: Find out if the author’s qualification is provided or if there’s a way you can verify their legitimacy.
- Accuracy: Check for spelling or grammatical errors. It’s rare for experts to write in poor grammar.
- Objectivity: Look for any biases in the content.
- Currency: Establish if the publication or date of the last revision is provided.
- Coverage: Determine if the topic is tackled expertly with clearly presented arguments. Also, try to check if the target audience is identified and if they suit your requirements.
- Appearance: Verify if the links provided function and if the site is organized properly
- Determine the date of publication
As days go by, knowledge may change, and new methods may be discovered. This means that advice given 10 years ago may not be as practical as that offered a year ago. For this reason, ensure you check the publication date before taking any advice. Usually, credible resources add the date of publication or last update right next to the article’s title. As a general rule, ensure the article was last updated at least two years ago.
Offline alternatives for mental health advice
Seeking mental health advice offline enables you to interact face to face with the service providers. These counselors can help you explore the causes of your emotional issues. Also, they can assist you in developing efficient coping skills that enable you to manage your emotions effectively. Here are some alternatives:
You should seek mental health advice from your doctor or primary care physician with the expertise and experience to guide people with mental issues. They’ve handled various patients with widely varying mental health conditions.
Also, they’ve been trained to handle sensitive issues and know various people’s requirements and cultural practices. All you need is to be open and honest to your doctor, explaining to them how you feel, your behavior, and your conditions. This way, you’re sure they’ll advise you accordingly.
Friends and family members
A problem shared is half solved. Sometimes speaking to your friends, relatives, neighbors, or colleagues about your condition helps a lot. They may encourage and support, discuss available options, or give you helpful information.
A qualified psychiatrists
Psychiatrists are professionals who specialize in the treatment of mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. They can decide whether you need medication, psychotherapy, or counseling by consulting them. What’s good about psychotherapists is that they can prescribe suitable drugs, offer psychotherapy, or refer you to a counselor.
Consulting Dr. Google can be the easiest and fastest way to obtain advice on mental health. However, not all information found online is legit. Scammers and novices may provide tips that may mislead you or cause further damage. For this reason, it’d be best if you become so cautious before employing any online advice. Better still, look beyond Google and explore age-old effective methods like seeing a professional counseling psychologist.
- “How can I determine if an author is credible?” Source: https://libanswers.hofstra.edu/faq/128608
- “Evaluating Internet Sources”, Source: https://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide/evaluating-internet-sources
- “Doctors Who Treat Mental Illness”, Source: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/doctors-treat-illness