Online Help Seeking

  • Author / Creator
    Greidanus, Elaine
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Paulson, Barb (Educational Psychology)
    • Carbonaro, Michael (Educational Psychology)
    • Foster, Rosemary (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Westwood, Marvin (University of British Columbia)
    • Boechler, Patricia (Educational Psychology)