Brace yourselves: I’m going meta
I’ve been thinking of ways to expand the mental health advocacy work that I try to do on the internet of late and looking at other ways of communicating with people, including things like YouTube videos. On one hand, I truly believe in the power of the internet and its good. On the other hand…yeah. It’s the internet, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the internet has somewhat of a fake-news problem. This is bad enough when talking about issues like politics, but when you start to get into life-changing issues, such as mental illness or COVID-19, it can be deadly.
I mean, seriously, think about that for a second: How many people have died because of internet-based fake news? Hundreds from COVID-19 alone – and probably more.
All of this got me thinking: How can you use the internet to find the most accurate and best mental health tips? Some thoughts, from someone who truly tries to give you the best information possible:
- Consider the source: Mental Health America has a great entry on this subject, and this bullet might be the most accurate. The source matters. No one should be making a claim without backing. No one should say that “research says” without linking to the research, and even if they do link to research, make sure to consider the quality of the research: A NIH study matters a heck of a lot more than a study on JimmysMentalHealth.com. I try not to make any claims that aren’t fact-based, and any internet research you do should stick to that idea. I’d also add this: Expertise matters. Consider someone’s perspective, education, and training before folding in their advice to your life. For example, I’d consider the input of a professional therapist much more valuable than my own perspective.
- Get a second – and third – opinion: Let me be clear about this: My opinion may be wrong. Anyone’s opinion may be wrong. This is why you should always get a second and third opinion on an issue. Someone suggesting a way of dealing with something? Before you incorporate it into your life, do additional research. Examine if other people have tried the same strategy, and determine their success.
- Timeliness matters: A link from 1999 is not as impactful as a link from the same subject in 2019. If someone is telling you that the “latest research” shows something, make sure to check the timeliness of that research. That’s not to say that there are intentional efforts to mislead, but time can obviously have a major impact on the timeliness of the information that you receive.
- Is there a business connection: This may come as a shock, but people try to sell you things on the Internet. As such, if someone is listing information about a specific technique or product, ask yourself this important question: What are they trying to sell you? To be clear, there is nothing wrong with someone using information and research to sell you a product. The product may be perfectly valid, and the information may be as well. But, if there is a commercial input, you should make sure to do your own research about its effectiveness.
- Google the source: Unsure about the source? Google it. You may find additional information about the source’s perspective, bias, or past ethical challenges.
There are other tips, without a doubt, and I’d love to hear them. What have you found is the best way to get the most accurate information on the internet, especially when it comes to mental health? Please leave your tips below!!