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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Internet Mental Health

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 3.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Jul 28, 2013 by Health Sciences
Overview:

This comprehensive website by Phillip Long, M.D. from Canada links to dozens of psychological disorder sites: Anxiety disorders, cognitive disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, substance-related disorders, etc.

This website also contains information on each of the most common mental disorders including American and European descriptions, treatment information (for therapists, research information, information booklets (from professional organizations and support groups) and related magazine, newsletter or newspaper articles.

It features online diagnostic programs that can be used to diagnose adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, drug-related disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders as well as disorders of infancy, childhood and adolescence.

This versatile website can be used by mental health professionals, patients who want to learn more about their illness, friends and families of patients, mental health support groups, students, and members of the general public who want to learn more about mental health. It also includes some discussion groups.

Information on each of the most common psychiatric medications are included, with enough detail and scope for it to be used by therapists. There is also a mental health magazine with articles, books, booklets, news, and also stories of how real people have coped with their illness. This website could easily be used in a classroom for high school, college or graduate school to do research for an assignment, or for teachers of students to present some of the information in class.

Learning Goals: There are no stated learning goals. The implied learning goals are: After reviewing the learning resource, the user will be able to:
  • Discuss at least two common mental health disorders including a description, treatment, research, and additional pertinent learning resources.
  • Discuss how the self-diagnose web site might be useful to healthcare consumers who have a mental health disorder.
  • Identify at least three categories of mental health disorders.
  • Discuss at least two medications used to treat mental health disorders.
Target Student Population: The target population is listed as anybody who has an interest in mental health, and the following are listed: Mental health professionals, Patients who want to learn more about their illness, Friends and families of patients, Mental health support groups, Students, and Members of the general public who want to learn more about mental health. As such, it is a very generally oriented website, and a target student population cannot be identified.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: It is helpful to know some medical terminology before viewing this website, because of comprehensive information presented.
Type of Material: This learning resource is a collection of information, references,training materials, stories, videos, and a animations. Also includes discussion board.
Recommended Uses: In class it could be used to present or demonstrate content or resources. It could be used for an assignment to do research on a topic or to browse and evaluate some of the Internet resources for mental health.
Technical Requirements: Technical requirements include a computer with Internet access, and a web browser. Use of the diagnosis programs require the use of a Java enabled web browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Wide variety and extensive collection of high quality materials for mental health education. Scholarly articles and research are organized very well. Stories, videos and links for use by patients and families are very valuable learning tools. Although it was created in 1995, it was obviously updated and contains current information and articles. Glossary and index were good features and the definitions were clear and practical.
Concerns:

It is controversial to diagnose patients on the basis of online interaction. A disclaimer should be included to say the information on this site does not take the place of seeing a mental health professional.

There was a disclaimer in the www.mytherapy.com portion of the website after the diagnostic interaction. There is also a cost to the self-diagnosis service after a 3 month free period. In order to be comfortable with recommending this to others, it would be helpful to include some statistics and outcomes you have from this way of practicing.

The statistics on Mental Health in America (on the home page) were interesting, but the date was not included. The inclusion of very political, controversial information prominently on the home page, such as Scientology may offend some users.

Many of the terms included in the glossary and index were unrelated to mental health, and many terms that should have been included (like cholinergic, serotonin, norepinephrine, and neurotransmitter) were not. Under research, users may not able to get to the full text articles even when it was indicated that they were free.


Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: This site was very versatile for many levels of learners and for many learning needs. It was well-organized so it was possible to find what you wanted to in a reasonable amount of time. The “Thought for the Day” was a good way to help personalize the mental health concepts. Keeping Kids Healthy video was also very good.
Concerns: Learning objectives are not provided, although there is a purpose stated for the website. Some information, such as some articles from PubMed or MedlinePlus, are not current. A few links are broken, but most are functioning appropriately. Some links are simply to Google scholar search pages and do not take the viewer to an actual website.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.25 stars
Strengths: The website is fairly easy to use and navigate. It is not interactive beyond simply selecting the topic that a viewer would like to learn more about. Text interspersed with links (most work) and links to websites such as Epocrates Online, MedlinePlus, and PubMed is provided for the disorders. Links only are provided for the medications. There are a couple of links quality of life scales available on the website.
Concerns:

It is almost overwhelming with the number of disorders and medications that are listed. Self Diagnosis is one link on the home page, but that section has been removed (appropriately so). There is a magazine link.

On the editorial section, general interest articles, general interest booklets, and newsletters are "not found". The research link includes three different kinds of disorder research. One, however, has been removed and the others ultimately lead to a PubMed search or similar. Internet links are mostly Google search pages rather than actual information on the topic being searched.

The font size used on the website is very small.


Other Issues and Comments:

The website could be used for students and faculty, as the collection of mental health materials is quite impressive. It would be easy to write an assignment for use of the learning resources.

The copyright dates differ depending upon the webpage viewed.