Advertisement

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 167–172 | Cite as

Websites as a mode of delivering mental health information: perceptions from the Australian public

  • Liana S. Leach
  • Helen Christensen
  • Kathy M. Griffiths
  • Anthony F. Jorm
  • Andrew J. Mackinnon
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

Background

Many people with a mental disorder do not access help from mental health services. Internet websites may be a useful tool for disseminating mental health information to those who remain untreated, however little is known about people’s perceptions of websites as mental health information sources. The current study examined characteristics that may influence belief in the helpfulness of websites as modes of delivering information about mental health. The study compared belief in the helpfulness websites to two traditional sources (bibliotherapy and health educators).

Methods

A total of 3,998 Australians aged 18 and above were surveyed. Logistic regression was used to explore the factors associated with rating a website, book and health educator as helpful sources of mental health information for a person described as having either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia or chronic schizophrenia. Factors investigated were demographics, exposure to mental illness, beliefs about dealing with mental illness alone, and personal and perceived stigmatising attitudes.

Results

Considerably more participants rated bibliotherapy and health educators as helpful in comparison to websites. Predictors of rating a website and book as helpful were identical; younger age, belief that it is helpful to deal with mental illness alone and being presented with depression and early schizophrenia vignettes in comparison to chronic schizophrenia. Predictors of rating a health educator as helpful were younger age, less personal stigma and being presented with a depression (without suicidal thoughts) vignette in comparison to chronic schizophrenia.

Conclusions

These findings suggest the need for multiple modes of delivering mental health information. While many people feel that information delivered face-to-face is likely to be helpful, websites and other tools that maintain anonymity may be preferred by those who choose to or find themselves dealing with mental illness alone.

Keywords

websites information delivery help-seeking 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The 2003–2004 survey was part of the Australia–Japan partnership, a cross-national study of mental health literacy. This survey was funded by the Australian Department of Health and Aging, a National Health and Medical Research Council Program Grant, and “beyondblue: the national depression initiative”. We wish to thank Kelly Blewitt for research assistance.

References

  1. 1.
    Andrews G, Henderson S, Hall W (2001) Prevalence, comorbidity, disability and service utilisation. Br J Psychiatr 178:145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bland RC, Newman SC, Orn H (1997) Help-seeking for psychiatric disorders. Can J Psychiatr 42(9):935–942Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gregory RJ, Schwer-Canning S, Lee TW, Wise JC (2004) Cognitive bibliotherapy for depression: a meta-analysis. Prof Psychol 35(3):275–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ruskin PE, Silver-Aylaian M, Kling MA, Reed SA, Bradham DD, Hebel JR, Barrett D, Knowles F 3rd, Hauser P (2004) Treatment outcomes in depression: comparison of remote treatment through telepsychiatry to in-person treatment. Am J Psychiatr 161(8):1471–1476PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Jorm AF (2004) Delivering interventions for depression by using the Internet: randomised controlled study. BMJ 328:265–269PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Car J, Sheikh A (2004) Email consultations in health care: 1 – scope and effectiveness. BMJ 329:435–438PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fox S (2005) Health information online. Pew Internet and American Life Project. http://www.Pewinternet.org
  8. 8.
    Wantland DJ, Portillo CJ, Holzemer WL, Slaughter R, McGhee EM (2004) The effectiveness of web-based vs. nonweb-based interventions: a meta-analysis of behavioural change. JMIR 6(4):e38Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bargh JA, McKenna KYA (2004) The Internet and social life. Annu Rev Psychol 55:573–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Griffiths KM, Christensen H (2000) Quality of web based information on treatment of depression: cross sectional survey. BMJ 321:1511–1515PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Erwin BA, Turk CL, Heimberg RG, Fresco DM, Hantula DA (2004) The Internet: home to a severe population of individuals with social anxiety disorder. J Anxiety Disord 18(5):629–646PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kraut R, Patterson M, Lundmark V, Kiesler S, Mukopahdyay T, Scherlis W (1998) Internet paradox: a social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? Am Psychol 53:1017–1031PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jorm AF (2000) Mental health literacy: public knowledge and belief about mental disorders. Br J Psychiatr 177:396–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jorm AF, Blewitt KA, Griffiths KM, Kitchener BA, Parslow RA (2005) Mental health first aid responses of the public: results from an Australian national survey. BMC Psychiatr 5(1):9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM (2005) The impact of beyondblue: the national depression initiative on the Australian public’s recognition of depression and beliefs about treatments. Aust NZ J Psychiatr 39(4):248–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Griffiths KM, Christensen H, Jorm A, Groves C (2004) Effect of web-based depression literacy and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions on stigmatizing attitudes to depression: randomized controlled trial. Br J Psychiatr 185:342–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Griffiths KM, Nakane Y, Christensen H, Yoshioka K, Jorm AF, Nakane H (2006) Stigma in response to mental disorders: a comparison of Australia and Japan. BMC Psychiatr 6(1):21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Llahana SV, Poulton BC, Coates VE (2001) The paediatric diabetes specialist nurse and diabetes education in childhood. J Adv Nurs 33(3):296–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Haythornthwaite C (2001) The Internet in everyday life. Am Behav Sci 45(3):363–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Demiris G (2004) Disease management and the Internet. J Med Internet Res [serial online] 6(3):e33 [cited 15 Nov. 2004]. Available from: URL: http://www.jmir.org/2004/3/e33/
  21. 21.
    Griffiths KM, Christensen H (2006) Review of randomized controlled trials of Internet interventions for mental disorders and related conditions. Clin Psychol 10(1):16–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liana S. Leach
    • 1
  • Helen Christensen
    • 1
  • Kathy M. Griffiths
    • 1
  • Anthony F. Jorm
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Mackinnon
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Mental Health ResearchThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Orygen Research CentreUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations