Mental health expert warns of the danger of self-diagnoses
On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web became publicly available.
Almost 20 years later, we use the Internet to do practically everything for us. From booking flights to exotic locations, to staying in touch with friends overseas and losing our composure over cat videos. We trust the Internet- it’s how we dissect world news and learn about important past historical events.
But should we be relying on the Internet for absolutely everything? According to a recent article in Vice there has been a rise of people going online in an attempt to self-diagnose mental health problems. The problem with this, according to Mental Health expert Dr.Robert Epstein is the sheer volume of what he calls “unvalidated mental screening tests”.
Of course, it is crucial to take these sites with a pinch of salt. A lot of self-diagnoses that happen on webmd at 4 o’clock in the morning are probably not life threatening diseases, just wind.
Dr Epstein talks about how sites like depressed.com or depressedtest.com are misinforming people because they are not run by trained and professional mental health experts. These sites are big hitters in terms of searches because they appear on the front page of Google and according to Epstein, can mislead a person who is genuinely searching for a mental health test.
“Some of them are on the verge of suicide. They don’t have the skills, and certainly not the stamina. They are the people least capable at that particular point in time, and they need help the most..The internet is the biggest source of misinformation about mental health that has ever been created."
(Dr Epstein image via Twitter)
In order to combat the misinformation surrounding mental health tests, Dr.Epstein has devised his own, Internet friendly test, called the Epstein Mental Health Inventory, a 63-question test available at doyouneedtherapy.com.
This test, while it is not a cure in any way, is at least one of the few clinically trailed testing methods available for free online and Epstein tried it out on over 3,400 subjects before publishing.
(Sample questions from test)
The Epstein Mental Health Inventory exists so that people will have more knowledge surrounding their mental health. So that when you feel ready to go to a counsellor or doctor, you will be prepared and aware of the signs of what is happening to you.
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