JMIR mental health 2016 Oct 273(4) e48
University students have a higher prevalence rate of depression than the average 18 to 24 year old. Internet self-help has been demonstrated to be effective in decreasing self-rated measures of depression in this population, so it is important to explore the awareness, access and use of such self-help resources in this population.
The objective of this study is to explore university students’ awareness, access and use of Internet self-help websites for depression and related problems.
A total of 2691 university students were surveyed at 3 time points.
When asked about browsing behavior, 69.6% (1494/2146) of students reported using the Internet for entertainment. Most students were not familiar with self-help websites for emotional health, although this awareness increased as they completed further assessments. Most students considered user-friendliness, content and interactivity as very important in the design of a self-help website. After being exposed to a self-help website, more students reported visiting websites for emotional health than those who had not been exposed.
More students reported visiting self-help websites after becoming aware of such resources. Increased awareness of depression and related treatment resources may increase use of such resources. It is important to increase public awareness with the aim of increasing access to targeted strategies for young people.