The Internet as a Mental Health Advisor in Germany—Results of a National Survey

Christiane Eichenberg, Carolin Wolters, Elmar Brähler, James Coyne
2013 PLoS ONE  
The internet constitutes a popular source of health information. However, the use of the internet and other modern media in the domain of mental health remains widely unclear. This study aimed at exploring the readiness for seeking information online and making use of online counseling and media-assisted psychotherapy. A representative survey of N = 2411 Germans was conducted. Results indicated that more than one fourth of Germans would consider seeking help online in case of psychic strain.
more » ... ticipants reported that they would use the internet when needing to research about mental health topics and to communicate with persons concerned on internet forums. Only a small number of participants had already used psychological online-counseling. The majority of subjects reported not having known about the possibility of online counseling. However, the willingness to make use of this option in the future was in a medium range. Concerning the treatment of mental disorders, participants showed a clear preference toward conventional face-to-face treatment. Less than 10% of participants considered the use of treatment supported by mobile phones, the internet, or virtual realities as likely. Certainly, readiness was significantly higher in persons who were already using the relevant devices-mobile phones, computers, and the internet. In the future, there will presumably be an increasing demand for media-assisted psychological counseling and interventions. Members of the health care system should therefore prepare for current developments and help enlighten patients with regard to the possibilities, and also the potential risks of e-mental health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079206 pmid:24278121 pmcid:PMC3836792 fatcat:2efc7hnm5jfz3ez3k2t4hccpem