Warning of online discussion of mental health problems

Warning of online discussion of mental health problems

Do not discuss psychological problems on Facebook & Co.

Experts warn against discussing psychological problems such as depression or eating disorders (anorexia) online in social networks. Although the internet-based discussions can be a very useful addition to parallel therapeutic measures, the chairman of the German Society for Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy (DGPM) only explained if the discussion takes place in a protected space and the content is deleted over time ), Wolfgang Mustard.

A public discussion of the psychological problems in social networks such as Facebook or StudiVZ should be discouraged in any case, because "privacy is often not adequately protected", warned the DGPM chairman. Employers, colleagues or acquaintances have been able to see the information for years, which could lead to further problems. Although the exchange via a website certainly offers a helpful addition to therapeutic measures, "the sensitive details of a depression, anorexia or anxiety disorder that is lived through belong in a protected space," explained Senf. In the opinion of the DGPM chairman, the social networks are unsuitable for this, because "in Facebook and other networks people discuss their mental problems by name and in public".

Positive effects of internet-based therapy approaches
The experts at the German Society for Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy are extremely critical of the publication of personal psychological problems on the Internet, but at the same time emphasize that these Internet-based therapy approaches “should be fundamentally evaluated positively as a supplement to professional face-to-face therapy” . According to the DGPM chairman, the online networks offer a very helpful option, especially when it comes to "shame-related topics or in rural areas when the way to the next psychotherapeutic practice is long". Thomas Berger from the University of Bern added that the internet forums accompanying the conventional psychotherapy can increase its effectiveness and significantly reduce the dropout rate. Because, according to the experts, it helps many people affected if they have the opportunity in everyday life to spontaneously talk to other people about their problems.

Internet-based therapy approaches are not an alternative, but a useful addition
However, the online discussion should always take place in protected areas - for example, forums about mental disorders - with registration and password-protected access. An anonymized form of exchange under non-personalized user names should also be possible and the contributions would have to be deleted after a while, the experts explained. However, the social networks that everyone can see, in which those affected disclose their personal information under their name, are in no way recommended for the discussion of psychological complaints, according to the warning of the German Society for Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy. However, the protected discussion in a corresponding forum is only suitable for accompanying discussion of the psychological problems; these forums do not offer a substitute for personal contact with a psychotherapist, emphasized DGPM chairman Wolfgang Senf. (fp)

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