Special Issue "The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Joe Firth
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia
Interests: health behaviour change; digital health; physical-mental comorbidities; physical activity; nutrition; co-design and service user involvement
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent years have seen a substantial increase in both academic and clinical interest in the role of digital technologies in psychiatry and mental health. For instance, numerous clinical trials across multiple psychiatric populations have provided emerging evidence that psychological interventions can be delivered via smartphones to reduce psychiatric symptoms and improve psychological wellbeing among people with mental health issues. On the flip-side of this, there is increasing speculation that certain aspects of digital technologies (such as internet addiction, or adverse interactions with social media) may negatively impact on mental health across the population.

The aim of this Special Issue is to produce a novel body of work contributing towards the field of digital psychiatry, particularly with regard to the use of smartphone technologies in mental disorders.

We warmly welcome all rigorous research projects examining this area of interest, across a range of study designs. Specifically, the Special Issue aims to include:

1) Novel case-control analyses providing new insights into how internet usage may differ between people with mental health conditions and the general population;

2) Clinical cohort studies investigating the association between specific online behaviors and psychological/cognitive outcomes in psychiatric populations;

3) Randomized and open-label trials examining if digital interventions can significantly improve mental health—in both clinical and nonclinical populations;

4) Pragmatic evaluations using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods designs in order to shed new light into the feasibility, acceptability, and cost-effectiveness of digital interventions in the prevention or treatment of psychiatric conditions.

Therefore, this Special Issue will (a) present novel data on the impact of smartphone usage on public mental health and/or clinical disorders and (b) examine the efficacy and implementation of digital interventions for people with mental health conditions. Collectively, this will increase understanding and inform evidence-based practice of digital psychiatry, while providing clear directions for future research required to take the field forward.

Dr. Joseph Firth
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • smartphones
  • apps
  • digital
  • internet
  • social media
  • mental illness

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Children’s Internet Use Profiles in Relation to Behavioral Problems in Lithuania, Latvia, and Taiwan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8490; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228490 - 16 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 620
Abstract
This study explored the profiles of elementary-school-aged children’s Internet use in relation to their emotional and behavioral problems. Participating in this cross-sectional study were 877 child–parent dyads from Latvia, Lithuania, and Taiwan. Children (8–10 years old) provided information on three variables: the amount [...] Read more.
This study explored the profiles of elementary-school-aged children’s Internet use in relation to their emotional and behavioral problems. Participating in this cross-sectional study were 877 child–parent dyads from Latvia, Lithuania, and Taiwan. Children (8–10 years old) provided information on three variables: the amount of time they spent online, frequency of online activities, and knowledge of how to do things online. Latent profile analysis including these three variables provided a four-class solution for child Internet use. A comparison between Latvia, Lithuania, and Taiwan on the percentage of the sample distribution in each class showed that there was no difference between sites for the high class (high ratings on all three variables). The largest differences were for the low and average classes (low and average ratings on all three variables, namely, time online, frequency, and knowledge): the Lithuanian and Taiwanese samples were similar in that a higher percentage of each sample was in the low class, whereas the Latvian sample had children equally distributed between the low class and the average class. Analysis of the data from the entire sample for differences in parent-reported child behavioral difficulties suggested that children in the high class had an elevated level of behavioral problems and compulsive Internet use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
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Article
Intergenerational Transmissions of Mother–Adolescent Smartphone Dependency: The Mediating Role of Negative Parenting and the Moderating Role of Gender
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5871; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165871 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 838
Abstract
Given the prevalence and undesirable consequences of smartphone dependency among adolescents, it is necessary to explore the influencing factors of adolescent smartphone dependency. The aim of this study was to examine the intergenerational transmission of mother–adolescent smartphone dependency and the mediating role of [...] Read more.
Given the prevalence and undesirable consequences of smartphone dependency among adolescents, it is necessary to explore the influencing factors of adolescent smartphone dependency. The aim of this study was to examine the intergenerational transmission of mother–adolescent smartphone dependency and the mediating role of negative parenting, moderated by adolescent gender. Data for 2541 middle school students (mean aged = 13 years)–mother dyads were obtained from the first wave of the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey 2018 (KCYPS 2018). The moderated mediation model using Hayes PROCESS macro (Model 14) was employed to test the study hypothesis. The moderated mediation model revealed that maternal smartphone dependency was associated with adolescent smartphone dependency. Perceived negative parenting mediated this link and adolescent gender moderated the relationship between negative parenting and adolescent smartphone dependency, especially for adolescent girls. Our findings showed that both maternal smartphone dependency and negative parenting were determinants of adolescent smartphone dependency, suggesting that both factors were important for understanding these issues. Moreover, the mediating role of negative parenting (between maternal and adolescent smartphone dependency) implies that parental education programs designed to improve negative parenting may reduce adolescent smartphone dependency, especially for adolescent girls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
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Article
Customers as Co-Creators: Antecedents of Customer Participation in Online Virtual Communities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 4998; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244998 - 09 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
The development of internet technology and the popularity of smartphones has been gradually affecting people’s daily lives, thus causing subtle changes to their health. Manufacturing companies are increasingly establishing virtual communities to motivate customers to participate in new product development. However, the reasons [...] Read more.
The development of internet technology and the popularity of smartphones has been gradually affecting people’s daily lives, thus causing subtle changes to their health. Manufacturing companies are increasingly establishing virtual communities to motivate customers to participate in new product development. However, the reasons that customers participate in the innovation process and the timing of participation remain under-researched. Hence, using data on 517 customers of 14 manufacturing enterprises, we investigate the reasons behind such participation and the moderating role of perceived ease of use and perceived control based on the social exchange theory. Results show that learning benefits, integrative benefits, and hedonic benefits have positive effects on participation. Perceived ease of use strengthens the positive relationship between integrative benefits and customer participation. Perceived control strengthens the positive relationship between hedonic benefits and customer participation. Theoretical implications and managerial practices are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
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Article
Stepping Up: Predictors of ‘Stepping’ within an iCBT Stepped-Care Intervention for Depression
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4689; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234689 - 25 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1134
Abstract
Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) may overcome barriers to mental health care and has proven efficacious. However, this approach currently exists outside the existing mental health care delivery system. Stepped care is a proposed framework for integrating digital mental health (DMH) into health [...] Read more.
Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) may overcome barriers to mental health care and has proven efficacious. However, this approach currently exists outside the existing mental health care delivery system. Stepped care is a proposed framework for integrating digital mental health (DMH) into health systems by initiating iCBT and “stepping up” care to a more intensive intervention should iCBT prove ineffective. This study explores pre-treatment factors associated with reaching stepping criteria among patients receiving iCBT. This exploratory analysis of a stepped care arm of a larger randomized trial examined participants who were stepped to a more intensive intervention if they did not respond to iCBT. The association of pre-treatment factors on stepping were examined using Kruskal–Wallis and Chi-square tests. One-fifth of the 151 participants met criteria for stepping within the 20-week treatment period. Only pre-treatment depression severity and treatment preference were associated with increased likelihood of stepping (p = 0.049 and 0.048, respectively). The low number of individuals who stepped provides support for iCBT as an effective, low intensity treatment for depression. The modest association of pre-treatment depression and preference to not receive iCBT may be useful in identifying patients who are less likely to respond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
Article
A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Responses to Live-Stream Suicides on Social Media
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2848; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162848 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Live-stream suicide has become an emerging public health problem in many countries. Regular users are often the first to witness and respond to such suicides, emphasizing their impact on the success of crisis intervention. In order to reduce the likelihood of suicide deaths, [...] Read more.
Live-stream suicide has become an emerging public health problem in many countries. Regular users are often the first to witness and respond to such suicides, emphasizing their impact on the success of crisis intervention. In order to reduce the likelihood of suicide deaths, this paper aims to use psycholinguistic analysis methods to facilitate automatic detection of negative expressions in responses to live-stream suicides on social media. In this paper, a total of 7212 comments posted on suicide-related messages were collected and analyzed. First, a content analysis was performed to investigate the nature of each comment (negative or not). Second, the simplified Chinese version of the LIWC software was used to extract 75 psycholinguistic features from each comment. Third, based on 19 selected key features, four classification models were established to differentiate between comments with and without negative expressions. Results showed that 19.55% of 7212 comments were recognized as “making negative responses”. Among the four classification models, the highest values of Precision, Recall, F-Measure, and Screening Efficacy reached 69.8%, 85.9%, 72.9%, and 47.1%, respectively. This paper confirms the need for campaigns to reduce negative responses to live-stream suicides and support the use of psycholinguistic analysis methods to improve suicide prevention efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
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Review

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Review
Exploring the Impact of Internet Use on Memory and Attention Processes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9481; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249481 - 17 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1138
Abstract
The rapid uptake of the internet has provided a new platform for people to engage with almost all aspects of life. As such, it is currently crucial to investigate the relationship between the internet and cognition across contexts and the underlying neurobiological mechanisms [...] Read more.
The rapid uptake of the internet has provided a new platform for people to engage with almost all aspects of life. As such, it is currently crucial to investigate the relationship between the internet and cognition across contexts and the underlying neurobiological mechanisms driving this. We describe the current understanding of this relationship across the literature and outline the state of knowledge surrounding the potential neurobiological drivers. Through focusing on two key areas of the nascent but growing literature, first the individual- and population-level implications for attention processes and second the neurobiological drivers underpinning internet usage and memory, we describe the implications of the internet for cognition, assess the potential mechanisms linking brain structure to cognition, and elucidate how these influence behaviour. Finally, we identify areas that now require investigation, including (i) the importance of the variation in individual levels of internet usage, (ii) potential individual behavioural implications and emerging population-level effects, and the (iii) interplay between age and the internet–brain relationships across the stages of development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Interface between the Internet and Mental Health)
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