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How to Navigate Online Mental Health Resources

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Concept of mental health. Silhouette of a human brain with a broken conundrum on a gray background.

AFTER I STOPPED my anxiety medication too quickly, I needed expert assistance, and quickly. Though I wasn’t in full crisis mode, it wasn’t a good situation. It was a rookie mistake. Don’t do this on your own. I have good health insurance, so I felt confident I would find a doctor to taper off my meds safely. But finding an appropriate professional became a lengthy, frustrating process. The lack of current or reliable online information for mental health was a big problem, even for me—and I’ve worked in health care.

Like most people, I began my search via my insurance company’s website. Their portal had filters and drop-down boxes for criteria like condition, type of doctor needed, and zip codes. I decided to cast a wide net in hopes of getting a few options to choose from. Pages of providers appeared, but each listing offered limited information. Most had just a few educational credentials or major conditions the individual specialized in treating. The first two pages I scrolled through were counselors and social workers. This would not work for me: I needed medication management, and I had even included that as part of my requirements. Apparently, the filters did nothing.

After an hour, I found 10 possible candidates. But most of them weren’t taking new patients, or only saw children. My next attempt led me to seven physicians located in or outside my city. That was enough. I made a list of docs to call and contacted each one.

Not one of them was able to help me. In fact, three had left their practice, and the remaining four had moved somewhere into the black hole of mental health group facilities owned by a parent corporation. I came up empty. The hospital portals I visited were outdated, and missing information was the norm. My mental health was now being hindered by technology.

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