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Online Help Seeking Open Access


Other title
Social Support
Mental Health
Help Seeking
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Greidanus, Elaine
Supervisor and department
Everall, Robin (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Carbonaro, Michael (Educational Psychology)
Paulson, Barb (Educational Psychology)
Westwood, Marvin (University of British Columbia)
Boechler, Patricia (Educational Psychology)
Foster, Rosemary (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
When stress becomes distress, people seek to decrease their psychological pain using methods that seem convenient and appropriate. In an increasingly technology-based society, the Internet provides opportunities for individuals in distress to seek information and connections with others. Research on Internet-based help services indicates that many people seek help online because of the anonymity and control afforded by the communication medium. This study explored the experiences of 10 people who sought help for mental health concerns and used the Internet as part of the process. Participants were recruited from online sources and posters placed in Internet cafes. Transcripts from the community message boards and blogs helped to support the reports for some participants. Basic qualitative inquiry was used to help understand these experiences and represent them in a way that facilitates understanding in others. Results of this study indicate that the role of the Internet in the process of help seeking is perceived differently, based on participants’ individual differences. However, the results also indicate ways that online and offline resources can be combined to facilitate early help seeking and seamless transitions between helping services. This study highlights the unique implications of online help services for adolescents and those seeking help online for suicidality, highlighting the benefits and challenges of online help. Implications of this study support the necessity to develop an integrated online/offline mental health strategy, as well as clear guidelines for online counselling. Recommendations are made for online service providers and directions for future research are suggested.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Running Head: Online Help Seeking
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