Internet information-seeking in mental health: population survey

Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;189:273-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.105.017319.


Background: A major use of the of the internet is for health information-seeking. There has been little research into its use in relation to mental health.

Aims: To investigate the prevalence of internet use for mental health information-seeking and its relative importance as a mental health information source.

Method: General population survey. Questions covered internet use, past psychiatric history and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire.

Results: Eighteen per cent of all internet users had used the internet for information related to mental health. The prevalence was higher among those with a past history of mental health problems and those with current psychological distress. Only 12% of respondents selected the internet as one of the three most accurate sources of information, compared with 24% who responded that it was one of the three sources they would use.

Conclusions: The internet has a significant role in mental health information-seeking. The internet is used more than it is trusted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*