When you’re worried about your health it’s very tempting to first turn to that easily available doctor in your pocket – what we like to call Doctor Google. You type in your symptoms and find out what information is out there.
In some ways this is a great development, as it allows you to be much more informed and empowered about health issues and not to be purely reliant on the health profession. In fact, some 80 per cent of people have looked up health issues online, with about 20 per cent having looked up terms such as anxiety, depression and stress.
As a GP, I’m delighted when patients discover health issues or treatments that I am not aware of. This suits the partnership model of health care where patients take responsibility for their own health.
With the seemingly endless amount of information on the internet, you can find out almost anything to do with health. However, the trick is to decide whether the information you are looking at is high-quality, accurate, up-to-date and relevant to your specific health circumstances. One measure of the quality of a health website is whether the organisation is listed on Australia's National Mental Health Commission website.
It’s also very worthwhile to look at the source of the information – who is publishing the material, is it a university or perhaps a professional organisation such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners?
Or is it an a organisation that is trying to sell you something? Is there a vested interest?
Here’s a list of some well recognised mental health websites that can give you credible information:
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