Seeking help for psychological distress on the Internet: The case of China.

Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July, 2014.


husITa14 Session

Juan Chen (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China).


The number of Internet users in China reached 519 million in June 2013. In recent years, the Internet has emerged as an alternative source of help in times of psychological distress. It is particularly popular among those who fear potential stigmatization associated with seeking help through professional or informal means. The proposed study asks the following questions: What groups are more likely to seek help from the Internet when experiencing emotional or mental distress? What factors predict the use of the Internet for emotional or mental distress? What concerns do people have when seeking help from the Internet? This study will analyze data from a household survey we are currently conducting in Beijing. Mental health is assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). The survey includes the following questions: In the past 12 months, did you ever look for information related to mental health on the Internet? In the past 12 months, did you ever seek help from forums or chatrooms on the Internet for emotional or mental distress? Why do you choose to seek help from forums or chatrooms on the Internet for emotional or mental distress? Multiple logistic regressions will be applied in analyzing the associations between seeking help on the Internet and other factors. Consulting the Internet for mental health related information and participating in Internet forums or chatrooms will be the dependent variables in the analyses. Psychological distress, physical health, socio-economic status, demographic characteristics, and migration-residency status will be included as independent variables. Findings on the use of Internet in addressing emotional or mental problems will be valuable for mental health practitioners, who can employ the Internet as an alternative means of service provision through online counselling programs and can ensure that accurate and useful information is being disseminated.



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