Technology has advanced to the point where most issues can be solved right on the internet from our mobile phones or computers. Need a last minute pet sitter or need to know how many ounces are in a gallon? With a quick Google search, you can find reliable information and resources to solve both of these every day issues.
But, what about accurate information and resources to assist with recognizing the signs of common mental illnesses or steps on navigating mental health conversations with healthcare providers?
A recent study revealed that one of the most popular online activities for individuals is looking for health or medical information, citing a remarkable 80 percent of internet users have searched for a health-related topic online.
This gap in resources is not only online, but in the patient experience as a whole. We see this when taking a high level look at the system currently in place. When we encourage patients to share their feelings and stories with a loved one or provider, they are met with support or treatment options, and lastly, the patient receives the prescribed treatment. We’re missing an important step: providing patients with the right tools, or education, in the beginning, so they can adequately participate in their treatment.
Why is This Important?
A lack of understanding about mental health among the general public can lead to discrimination and stigma toward those living with behavioral l health issues. By offering information and resources around mental health topics to patients before they even need it, allows them to feel empowered to have everyday conversations around these topics and feel comfortable to seek help if they find themselves or a loved one experiencing symptoms.
By using content to educate individuals rather than just provide information, we can also increase health literacy, which is something we know not enough individuals can speak proficiently about — only 12 percent of people have proficient health literacy which inevitably leads to poor health outcomes, infrequent use of preventative services, and higher healthcare costs.
Closing the Gap
We know people are looking for medical information on the internet, so why not improve the patient experience by meeting them where they’re at? Right on the internet from their phones and computers, but it must be done right because while search engines have made it simple for individuals to find credible health information, it has inadvertently also made it easier to access non-credible resources. This situation can cause patients to potentially develop unnecessary fears about their health.
To provide individuals with the best information and resources, first make sure you’re distributing content that is educational and not just a list of information. To ensure this is accomplished, always validate that your content is credible, clinically-sound and provides patients with actionable takeaways. Next, find a way to share your content in a way that is highly accessible and simple to comprehend.
At Psych Hub, we accomplish this through free educational videos because we want people of all socioeconomic statuses to have access, and because we know that 95 percent of a message is retained when individuals watch a video compared to 10 percent when reading the information in text.
As a provider, you can play a key role in improving the patient experience by expanding the way you offer information and resources. By leaning into the digital age and offering easily accessible, credible information in the form of digital tools, you are allowing patients to take action and be proactive about mental health conversations and the mental health of themselves and their loved ones.
Marjorie Morrison is the president and CEO of Psych Hub, an online platform providing free, engaging videos about mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention. Prior to founding Psych Hub, Marjorie was founder and CEO of PsychArmor Institute. Marjorie is a California Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a PPS-credentialed School Psychologist, and the author of The Inside Battle: Our Military Mental Health Crisis.