You’ve probably heard a lot about how the internet is bad for you. Especially in the area of mental health, people often talk about the harmful effects of the internet. Internet addiction can make you withdraw from your social networks. It can also bring down your productivity and happiness. But you also know that the internet makes life easier in many ways. You’re here to read an informative article, after all. All the same, can the internet actually help improve your mental health? For example, can you get mental health treatments that are completely internet-based? This article will answer this question — with a yes.
Mental Health and the Internet
Mental Health and the Internet
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our psychological and social well-being. This means that if you are mentally healthy, you are doing well in your day-to-day activities. You also don’t experience distress that drains you, and you have supportive relationships in your life.
Unfortunately, it is very common for people to have trouble with their mental health. Remember that there is no shame in this. Even if you don’t know it, someone you know probably has such struggles.
You may have seen that sharing your troubles with friends and family helps you face a difficult situation. But sometimes you may feel such intense emotional distress that you may need professional help. Many people need help from mental health professionals like psychologists and counsellors. The demand for mental health services is very great around the world. And many, many people just don’t get the help that they need. This situation became even worse during the pandemic.
How Can the Internet Help with Mental Health?
We’ve already seen that there are simply not enough professionals to help all the people in the world. Many people just don’t have access to psychological services. But if mental health treatments could be available on the internet, this would make these services accessible.
Mental health professionals around the world have moved from in-person therapy to online therapy. Online therapy works just like normal therapy. You have one-on-one interaction with a professional. The only difference is that the mode of interaction is online. Online therapy has proved as effective as in-person therapy, as long as the communication is smooth. For example, a good network connection is vital for counselling.
Another exciting way of making mental health services available to people is by making the treatments themselves available online. Over the past ten plus years, this has become a successful way of getting people the help that they need. These internet-based mental health treatments may be:
- Unguided self-help therapies. That is, you can read and apply programs created by mental health experts. The programs are designed so you can do this by yourself, without the need for anyone to assist you.
- Guided self-help therapies. Here, too, there is material to read and follow by yourself. But you can have a professional help you through the program.
Online therapy, as we mentioned earlier, is one-on-one interaction with a professional where you use the internet only for communication.
Effectiveness of Internet-Based Treatments
We’ve already seen some of the reasons why internet-based treatments can help people. For example, you’re reading this article instead of directly contacting a professional. That’s likely because online resources are easier to access than a professional.
Now say you’re struggling with your mental health and you want help. You’ve never been to a therapist before and all this is looking very scary. At least at the beginning, you may prefer to get online help and not involve anyone else. This way, instead of you going to a therapist’s office, the office comes to you.
But do these internet-based treatments truly help someone who needs it? Research shows that they do. Online, unguided self-help treatments have proven to be almost as effective as formal therapy. Remember that proper treatments should have been designed by qualified experts or professionals. This is especially valuable for someone who needs psychological help and would prefer not to go to a professional.
Another plus for internet-based treatments is the range of problems they address. These treatments can address concerns like:
- Anxiety disorders like Generalised Anxiety Disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Especially after the pandemic, there has been a lot of interest in moving all kinds of diagnoses and treatments online. Mental health professionals are now looking to aid people by creating internet-based therapies for the more common psychological issues.
How to Find Internet-Based Treatments
How to Find Internet-Based Treatments
We’ve talked a lot about how internet-based treatments can be helpful with mental health. Now, what if you needed help and were considering internet-based treatments? What should you keep in mind? What should you look for? Here are some tips on finding the right internet-based mental health treatment for you.
When you consider a website for internet-based help for your mental health, look up the experts who created the therapy programs. What are their qualifications? A good website should have those qualifications clear for you to see. This way you won’t even have to go to the trouble of looking it up yourself. You should only use treatments that have been created by people with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, preferably a master’s or higher.
Let’s say you decide to get internet-based help with your mental health. You also want it to be unguided. You now have an important responsibility to yourself. This responsibility is: to be as informed as possible.
Read as much as you can about what you’re struggling with. Also, investigate the kind of treatment you’re going to take. This may take more time than you like. But it’s worth it. Better to spend time on something that will help you, right? The alternative is that you waste time on a program that’s useless, or worse, harmful.
Know the Limits of Internet-Based Therapy
It’s very important to add some cautions here. Self-help therapies are not right for you if you are in severe psychological distress. If you are in severe distress, or even if you’re not sure, find a professional to help. Also, once you’ve tried internet-based therapy, you may feel it doesn’t help. That’s fine. It just may not be for you. Please don’t let this stop you from reaching out to a professional for help. Sometimes the personal touch is just necessary. A professional would also have more expertise to help you.
You may have heard of doctor-shopping. This is when someone jumps from doctor to doctor when they’re trying to get help for physical sickness. You can probably guess that this is not good if you want to get better. In the same way, jumping from online treatment to online treatment will not be helpful for you.
Once you find an online treatment that you think is right for you, try to stick with it for a while. Really try out the changes it recommends. Then, if it doesn’t work for you, move on. You can try another online treatment, or perhaps therapy proper.
We hope this article helps you find the help you need.
If you would like to know more about seeking help with mental health, look up our article on Asking For Help. We also have multiple Courses on our website that are internet-based mental health treatments. Here are some of them: DBT For Anger and Low Self-Esteem.