It is fascinating to learn that in our digital worlds we find extra dimensions of help and resources for our mental health. Digital and online pathways can be a perfect addition to the personal jigsaw that supports and connects us with tools for recovery and healthy life management.
Different things work for different people. For many, you can't beat the personal touch - but for others - this is a familiar world and one which is easy and instantaneous to navigate.
Clinicians are beginning to use emails, SMS and webcams to provide the necessary communications with clients who may otherwise have difficulty accessing services.
Aislinn Bergin specialises in Digital Mental Health research, also known as E-Mental Health. She is currently doing a PhD in this area around how we interact with electronic media in our quest for better mental health. She hopes to create a website once she has completed her PhD that can teach people how to be safe online and direct them to resources that they will find effective and engaging. She also does workshops around e-mental health and is available on a consultancy basis for anyone interested in developing resources or learning more – you can contact her through the CPTPC.
She prepared this overview:
E-Mental Health takes many forms but most important is the prefix – E is not just for ‘electronic’ but also for easy to use, ethical, empowering, enabling, educational, effective, ethical and equitable1.
The availability of different types of resources – from online support groups to smartphone apps – ensures that each individual can feel more in control of their self-management. There are some fantastic resources out there and some of them are listed under “Getting Help” of this very website. Here are some examples of the important roles they can take in our lives:
Online support groups allow experiences to be shared, connecting with others and can provide support
There are many websites/apps out there that can provide ways to learn more about yourself, they can provide tips on how to stay well and psychoeducation
Sometimes the most important thing you can do is share your time with others, whether that means telling your story and writing a blog like Miranda or getting involved in a local bake sale
If you are interested in using smartphone apps to help you maintain good mental health both NHS Apps Library and Mindapps are good places to start. There are apps that will chart your moods, apps to monitor your activity, interventions from CBT to mindfulness, apps that link to forums, games, psychoeducation… Even if you don’t have a smartphone there are still some ways that you can chart your moods, for instance using Buddy , that will allow you to record them in real time rather than having to remember them retrospectively.
But remember the most important thing is that you feel safe and secure, talk to friends and family as well as your GP about using e-mental health – they will be able to help you use it to your best advantage.
1 Eysenbach, G. (2001). What is e-health?. Journal of medical Internet research, 3(2).
2 Murray, G., Suto, M., Hole, R., Hale, S., Amari, E., & Michalak, E. E. (2011). Self‐management strategies used by ‘high functioning’individuals with bipolar disorder: from research to clinical practice. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 18(2), 95-109.