Online Mental Health Resources that Charge a Fee – Threat or Resource?

Online Mental Health Resources that Charge a Fee – Threat or Resource?

mhconcierge.com recently stumbled across two interesting websites that provide a wide range of resources for people interested in improving their mental health.  See Optimize with Brian Johnson and Open Forest. Both sites offer a wide variety of information about both specific mental health problems and general resources for improving, or even “optimizing” a person’s mental health functioning.

Both sites appear to have curated quality information, although it is not possible to access all of this information without paying a fee. Yes, this is their business model- to make money by charging a fee to access information.  Both sites offer educational video modules and papers about a wide variety of mental health topics.

For example, Brian Johnson’s site offers “400+ stunning PDFs,” 1 “Master Class,” 22 “Micro Classes” and more – all for, as far as I can tell, a subscription of $10 per month.  In all, he provides a total of 604 resources – all apparently for $10 per month.  He also provides podcasts and a free daily blog posting service.

The Open Forest site is managed by a psychiatrist, Michiel Bosman, MD.  The site provides seven  free self tests:  depression, alcohol abuse, narcissism, compassion, anxiety, ADHD and “how grateful are you?”   The site also offers a suite of “self-help modules,” with what appear to be pretty thorough and clinically sound sub-modules that apparently take about 10 minutes.  I say “appear” because, like the other site, a monthly subscription is charged for accessing the modules. The monthly fees range from $25 to $50 dollars.

To mhconcierge.com, these sites raise some interesting and challenging question:  are they the “therapy of the future” – are people seeking health with mental health problems going to bypass therapists and go directly to online resources?  Will the convenience and low expense of online resources put in-person therapy and  brick-and-mortar offices out of business?  Should we be threatened – or even terrified- about these sites?

Or, as mhconcierge is included to believe, are these sites potential partners?  Should we refer our patients/clients to them for adjunctive resources that can enhance, rather than be a threat to, our in-person, individualized services?

Well, time will tell, but it seems advisable to be aware of, and monitor, these types of sites.  People are likely to be increasingly aware of them, and to ask us about them.

If these sites provide quality information and help for people, and people find them helpful and spread the word about them, then we need to adapt to them.

Please feel free to comment.  If you, or people you serve, have had experience with these sites, or other like them, it would be helpful to share this info with the rest of the mhconcierge.com community.

Richard Sethre, Psy.D., L.P.

Head researcher and editor, www.mhconcierge.com

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