Did you ever read the story about what happens to you when you see a shrink for the first time? Well, maybe you didn’t but that type of intrigue is what causes some people to avoid seeking professional help—they’re too wrapped up in what they’ve ‘read’ on the Internet to seek the real answers about how mental health intervention works.
It’s not that the Internet makes us completely irrational but it does, however, contribute to some of the misrepresentations about mental health treatment and cures. Find out some of the myths I’ve heard about the Internet and mental illness below.
Myth: The Internet can diagnose me without my ever having to see a professional! This is one of the biggest pitfalls people fall into about self-help. The Internet is a resource for both fact and fiction but it is not a treatment provider or a training tool for anyone to get consistent, accurate or reliable information about the efficacy of quality mental health care.
Myth: I learned on the Internet the best way to cure my mental illness and all I need are natural supplements! That’s another falsity and a dangerous one at that. The Internet may offer alternatives to traditional medical and psychological interventions but the risks of doing that far outweigh the benefits in it. Playing doctor in a manner that is unsupervised by a professional can consequently trigger medical accidents such as sudden dizziness, nausea, seizures, heart failure or worse, accidental death. Always speak to a medical professional before changing your medical regimen.
Myth: Blogs from people who live with mental illness are helpful ways for those with mental illness to seek help without it costing a lot. Blogs are tools that provide insight and experiential information to others who share in similar areas of interest or intrigue. But blogs are not necessarily the best tool for factual, evidence-based information on mental illness and treatment. Notwithstanding the value most writers and readers place on blogs, people with mental illness who share personal stories do provide a very important perspective to others who may feel isolated or misunderstood about being ill. However, it should be understood that most blogs are opinion-based articles with sometimes, little research-based evidence. A person writing from their personal experience is not mental health treatment and it should never be perceived as a replacement for seeing a doctor, psychiatrist, social worker or a psychologist.
The idea here is simple: take bits and pieces from various sources so you can make a sound decision about your health. Just know that not everything you read is true, and not everything you see on the Internet is a one-size-fits-all resource.
If you’re really not sure about what type of help you need, seek the advice of people who have studied and trained in this field; most times you can get the accurate information that’s factual and possibly at a better cost to you in the end!
Asha Tarry, Licensed Mental Health Specialist and Owner of Behavioral Health Consulting Services LMSW, PLLC (www.BHConsultingServices.net). Follow her @ashtarry on Twitter/ Asha Tarry on Facebook and LinkedIN.