Maintaining positive mental health is crucial for everyone’s overall well-being. It might sound easy for some people, but for many others, it can feel like an uphill battle.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 5 per cent of the adult population worldwide experiences depression yearly.
Moreover, the number of people suffering from this or any other mental condition is higher in areas that have experienced an emergency disaster. For instance, mental health conditions are prevalent in war-prone regions.
Unfortunately, many factors have slowed the fight against this mental health problem.
First, the significant stigma attached to it has discouraged many people from speaking out.
Another barrier worth mentioning is the lack of enough mental health information.
Many people don’t have direct access to expert opinions, so they turn to Dr Google. However, a simple Google search returns hundreds of thousands of results, but not all of them are worth consuming. In fact, some of them are misleading and can cause panic.
So how can you find reliable mental health information?
Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Prioritize credible national organizations
The internet is full of content creators claiming to be experts at what they do. Unfortunately, while some of them might have experience in matters concerning mental health, some aren’t worth your time.
Some might provide advice based on what they’ve gone through. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when addressing mental health illnesses.
It can also be challenging to differentiate between high-quality information and misleading content.
Therefore, experts always recommend prioritizing credible websites in your search engine results.
National organizations, non-profit research centres and universities should be top of your priority list. These mental health websites publish credible information to help people to understand and deal with their problems efficiently.
If you’re unsure about a website’s credibility, read their ‘About Us’ page. This section should tell all you need to know about the site’s owner, philosophy, and vision.
All these factors are essential in the grand scheme of things because it gives you an idea of where the publisher’s perspective. In addition, this information lets you know if the author is qualified to speak on the subject.
Remember, mental health is delicate, and reading unverified content can only worsen your situation.
2. Consider recently updated articles
There are many websites hosting outdated content. Although old information isn’t necessarily wrong, it might not align with current research and trends.
For example, many scientists have studied how the mind functions over the years and made discoveries. The answers to common mental-health-related questions have, therefore, changed considerably.
For instance, experts no longer classify prolonged duress stress disorder (PDSD) entirely as an anxiety disorder because it entails multiple symptoms outside the anxiety spectrum. This has had a significant impact on its diagnostic criteria and treatment procedures. PDSD is just one of the many mental health disorders that have changed their specific information in the past decade.
Therefore, you must prioritize blogs or articles with recently updated information. Websites run by universities, non-profit research centres, and national organizations are often the best options. The publishers of these sites update their articles as soon as they receive new information.
3. Check who funds the website
Another factor you should consider when looking for reliable mental health information online is the website’s sponsor. Every site is either run by an individual or a given organization. Therefore, the sponsor can control what they can or can’t post on the website.
For instance, sites funded by businesses will often publish information biased towards the said business. Ads drive other websites whose only motivation is to generate revenue through advertisements rather than helping their audience.
Although ads aren’t necessarily harmful content, they only include the perspective of the one who pays for them to be there.
Of course, it can sometimes be challenging to note with certainty the sponsor of some websites. Most sites, however, have their sponsors listed on their home page or at the bottom of every web page.
Websites sponsored by government agencies or verified health organizations are the best for reliable health information in general.
So do your due diligence before deciding whether a website’s content is worth reading.
4. Consider peer-reviewed articles
In academic publications, many consider peer-reviewed articles credible sources of information because of their evaluation process.
In addition, experts subject the content in these articles to the scrutiny of other experts in the industry. Furthermore, these standards mean these studies go through a process set by their industry and can take weeks or months before publication.
However, when it comes to mental health, such sources of information aren’t only accurate but also approved by many players in the field.
So whenever you search for journals or stand-alone articles, check whether they’ve been peer reviewed. This way, you’ll be guaranteed reliable information on mental health.
Furthermore, you can find these articles in physical and online libraries – university libraries are the best place to start.
Mental health awareness is still not up to the required standards despite the recent campaigns and technological advances.
Unfortunately, unreliable access to reliable information has made these campaigns less fruitful. Whether you’re experiencing mental health issues or if you know someone who is, reading credible articles and books on this matter will give you ideas on how to handle certain situations.
Governmental and non-profit organization websites are the best starting points when looking for reliable mental health information. In your research, professionals recommend you choose peer-reviewed articles from online libraries or other credible medical journals.
While at it, prioritize those articles that journals or websites have recently updated. Confirming the sponsors of every given website is also essential because it’s a significant factor in determining the level of bias in the created content.
Bhakta, MPH, Sanjana. “The Importance Of Mental Health Research And Evaluation.” Mental
Health First Aid from National Council for Mental Wellbeing, April 30, 2021.
Lester, Jessica. “8 Pieces of Expert Mental Health Advice for 2022.” Forbes, June 15, 2022.
World Health Organization. “Mental Health.” https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health.