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Seeking mental health information and support online: experiences and perspectives of young people receiving treatment for first-episode psychosis

Shalini Lal, Valentin Nguyen, Joanie Theriault
Early Intervention in Psychiatry 2018, 12 (3): 324-330
26810026

AIM: Limited knowledge exists on youth mental health service users' experiences and perspectives of seeking mental health information, services and support online. Such information is important for developing online resources that are tailored to the needs of youth with different types of mental health concerns. The purpose of this study was to better understand the experiences and perspectives of young people receiving treatment for first-episode psychosis (FEP) on using web-based and mobile technologies for accessing mental health information, services and support.

METHODS: A qualitative approach using focus group methods was used. Seventeen participants between the ages of 21 and 35 were recruited from a specialized early intervention program for psychosis. A thematic analysis was conducted.

RESULTS: The results are organized under three related themes: striving towards a better understanding of the illness and treatment; encountering multiple issues with accessing information online; and valuing online mental health information and support. The majority of participants described online activities related to information and support, rather than specific types of mental health services or interventions.

CONCLUSIONS: Youth receiving treatment for FEP value accessing mental health information and support online; however, they encounter several challenges in this regard. The findings can inform the development of online resources and strategies that meet the needs of service users. This study also highlights the importance for mental healthcare professionals to address the topic of online mental health information and support seeking within the context of providing services to young people.

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