Accessibility: Internet interventions can simultaneously serve users across a community, a state, the nation, or the world, at any time of the day or night, including holidays and weekends.
Stigma: The availability of Internet interventions that are used in the privacy of one’s own home, educational or work setting, or using a public access computer makes these interventions more likely to be used by people who would not come to a mental health–oriented program.
Reaching multicultural, multilingual communities: Internet interventions can be implemented relatively easily in multiple languages. Similarly, advances in technology now make it possible to create Internet interventions that require a minimum level of reading or writing. The use of video, graphics, and audio allow the creation of Internet interventions that can be used by individuals at any education level.
Internet interventions also have limitations. One of the most troublesome is the lack of access to the web by many low-income, low-education groups. However, Internet access is increasingly available via mobile devices, such as cell phones. Many developing countries have skipped the stage of land-line phones and moved directly to cell phones. As is the case for other venues, Internet interventions will not be effective in preventing all types of MEB disorders. It is useful to think in terms of “market segmentation,” in which specific means of reaching populations at risk will need to be developed and evaluated to see which is most effective for which population. Nevertheless, to help make prevention feasible, one must think beyond traditional interventions and harness the power of advanced communication media, such as the Internet.
The advent of the Internet and modern use of technology presents new opportunities for both dissemination and research. Broadcasting the availability of accessible web-based or CD-ROM programs or making implementation resources (e.g., training, manuals) available could potentially increase the use of prevention programs. Implementation of interventions via the web has the potential to address several implementation barriers (see Box 11-4). Because online interventions can occur anonymously, these technologies also have the potential to be less stigmatizing, a significant potential barrier to participation.