Was it the easier half which has passed us by of 1997 already? Or was that the harder part and the easiest part is yet to come? Hmmm, hard to tell.
What’s easier is to reflect on the progress which has been made online, as well as some of the setbacks. For instance, in terms of progress, a lot has happened. I’d like to highlight what I consider some of the more important things here.
Psych Central underwent its first major makeover in a year and has gotten nothing but positive feedback for it. In the next few months, we hope to add to the site in a new, innovative manner which should knock most people’s socks off. Psych Central continues to be the leading site online for mental health, psychology and psychiatry online resources. We’ve added an internship program, in conjunction with Ohio State University, and have a staff of about a dozen volunteers which help us keep it all running smoothly.
The Supreme Court in the U.S. has made a number of decisions which affect people, regardless of their disorder. The first was a set-back for proponents of physician-assisted suicide, with the justices ruling unequivocally that individuals in the U.S. do not have the right to a painless death when faced with a lengthy, chronic and debilitating medical illness. That’s too bad, because that, in conjunction with doctors’ fear of prescribing adequate amounts of painkillers (such as opiates) for people who suffer from pain, means that people have little choice but to suffer. Didn’t know that doctors continuously under-prescribe painkiller medication? You would if you had read the illuminating article in Reason magazine.
The other ruling the justices made was to strike down the ridiculous Communications Decency Act. C’mon parents! Take some responsibility for your children and their behaviors. Stop labeling them and start loving them. At one time, we considered a hyperactive child to be an explorer, an innovator, an imaginative creator; now we all too often are quick to saddle them with a label of ADHD. In the same way, conservative parents thought that smut on the Internet was uncontrollable via software, although the software has existed to block sites from child’s eyes for well over two years. And how is the Playboy on the Internet any different than the one in your home?
My life has been very busy as well. I had my first book published, I as senior editor, and finished work on my second one (which is now due out in early August). These were exciting but stressful projects to work on. (Both books are oriented toward helping mental health professionals find their way online.) I look forward to my next book, but I haven’t quite yet which direction to go. I have thought about simply writing about the myriad of positive and negative experiences I’ve had online since I’ve been “online” since the early 1980’s. Not sure anybody would be interested or buy such a book, though. Also would like to write more about the power of the self-help phenomenon online, but again, not sure the audience is really there for such a book. We’ll see and I’ll let you know.
A couple of good Web sites have come online in the first part of the year, some of which I don’t yet list in my pointer; I will try and rectify that shortcoming shortly, though. One is the Mining Company’s Mental Health site hosted by a psychologist colleague of mine, Leonard Holmes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t much care for how the Mining Company operates (for instance, they pay their “guides” from the proceeds of their advertising; they frame others’ content; they have no quality assurance on who can become a “guide”; etc.), but this particular offering is a good site nonetheless and one I recommend you check out.
Another interesting site is the Credential Check site Martha Ainsworth (http://www.metanoia.org/) and I developed to credential online therapists. I think this is a good idea and one which you, as a consumer, should demand of your online therapist. We check to make sure they are who they say they are and carry the degrees, licenses, and other credentials they claim. We’re an independent organization. If you’re one of the handful of professionals who offer online services, you should also check it out.
Behavior OnLine, headed by my friend and colleague Gil Levin, continues to re-invent itself with new vigor. Playing on its strength of its online discussion forums, I head they will be branching out into real-time chat capabilities in the upcoming months. Their case-conference is a must-see for professionals online. In collaboration with Psych Central, Behavior OnLine will be formally launching their exciting new continuing education offering online this August, at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. Utilizing RealAudio technology, this looks to be a promising way of taking a continuing education course online.
Also at the American Psychological Association’s convention in August, I look forward to chairing two symposia I’ve organized to educate psychologists about what their colleagues are doing online (Symposium 1). The other symposium focuses on the research done about online behavior and online psychology. And hopefully, this latter symposium will finally put to the rest the joke-cum-disorder, “Internet Addiction Disorder.”
The first half of this year has been extremely busy and exhausting, yet also exhilarating as well. This is a good time to be alive and on the Net and I’m glad I’m here. I hope you are, too.
New this month on Psych Central! The past year and a half’s editorials are now available through my editorial archive.
If you want the whole shi-bang of over 6,000 separate resources that have to do with psychiatry and mental health online, then you might want to visit Psych Central. It’s the largest and most comprehensive site of its kind in the world and we’re looking to build upon it in the upcoming years, acting as a super guide to mental health online. If you didn’t find what you needed here, look there next!