The internet and mental health literacy

H. Christensen*, K. Griffiths

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective. This paper describes the informational and treatment opportunities offered by the Worldwide Web (WWW) and comments on the advantages, disadvantages and potential dangers of its role in mental health and mental health research. Method. Two perspectives are taken: (i) the impact of the Web from the point of view of the clinician (the practitioner view) and (ii) the impact of the Web on the public's knowledge of mental health (mental health literacy; the community or public health view). These perspectives are applied to two areas of impact: (i) information and knowledge; and (ii) treatment and self-help. Results. The Web, due to its accessibility, has advantages in providing access to information, online therapy and adjunctive therapy in mental health. Problems include information overload, poor information quality, potential harm and lack of scientific evaluation. Conclusions. Issues of overload and quality of information, the potential for harm and the need to evaluate interventions are not unique to the Internet. However, the Internet has special features which make these issues more prominent. The Internet is likely to increase the general public's access to information and to decrease unmet need. Sites and interventions on the Internet need to be formally evaluated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)975-979
    Number of pages5
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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