Many Australians with mental illness are enthusiastic users of information and communication technology – actively utilising the Internet and mobile technology to manage their lives, to help overcome isolation, and to seek information and online self-help treatments. Some also need support to take advantage of technology.

Are people with mental illness on the wrong side of the digital divide? Does the Internet discourage contact with friends and family? Does the mass of often-dubious mental health content on the web mean they are less likely to find accurate information and help?

This study aimed to find out . . It was not focused on whether people have Internet access, but on how they use it.

The survey was conducted in November- December 2011, using a convenience sample of 605 people who completed an anonymous online questionnaire. Most respondents were female (74%). Two-thirds (64%) lived in urban areas, and one-third (36%) in rural and remotes areas. The most common diagnoses reported were depression (39%), bipolar disorder (21%), anxiety disorders (19%) and schizophrenia (9%). Ages were evenly distributed, with half of the respondents under 40, and half older.

Image: juanpol / flickr

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