Objective: To describe the Beacon web portal, which lists and rates quality health websites, collects user characteristics and publishes user feedback; and to report summary data on Beacon's highest-rated (best evidence-based) sites for mental health.
Data sources: A systematic search was undertaken in February 2009 for potentially relevant websites through a review of research papers and a recently published book, an internet search of Open Directory Project medical categories, a review of material on a high-profile mental health portal, and a survey of international researchers.
Selection criteria: All sites were ranked on a 7-point scale from -1 to 5, with negative scores indicating evidence of no effect and scores of 2 or more indicating evidence of efficacy based on reports in the scientific literature.
Results: By March 2010, 183 sites had been identified, of which 122 focused on physical health or wellbeing, 40 targeted anxiety, and 23 targeted depression. Of the eight generalised anxiety disorder sites identified, four achieved ratings of 2 or above. Two social anxiety disorder sites achieved scores higher than 2. Ten panic disorder sites were identified, with three achieving ratings of 2 or above; and five post-traumatic stress disorder sites were identified, with two achieving ratings of 2 or above. Of the 23 identified depression sites, four achieved a rating of 2 or above.
Conclusions: There are a number of high-quality mental health websites on the internet, and Beacon provides a portal to enable the wide dissemination of these resources.