ONLINE MENTAL HEALTH: Dr. Joyce Brothers to Launch Web Site
Mental health expert Dr. Joyce Brothers, through Strategic iPartners, Inc., plans to launch a Web site this fall, the Wall Street Journal reports. DrJoyceBrothers.com will probably feature chat sessions and original pieces by the well-known psychologist, as well as an archive of her writings on a variety of subjects. The site also will include for-fee services, such as online sessions with therapists and employee training courses. According to Brothers, people "thirst for information that will make [their lives] smoother, easier, happier," and the Internet provides the information "faster and more easily," while allowing for customization. Lawrence DeRusha, Strategic iPartners CEO, believes that the site will "become profitable within a few years," noting that advertising will account for only 10% of the site's annual revenue. After offering advice to Americans on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines for more than 40 years, Brothers' popularity should help the site compete with the 17,000 others addressing mental health.
Analysts Raise Doubts
Industry analysts argue that, despite her name, Brothers' site faces a number of challenges, including the "uncertain economics" of content sites and skepticism about the safety of online therapy. "[H]er brand name is unquestionable, but she is nothing more than a carrot to bring the consumer to the site. That on its own is certainly not enough," Claudine Singer, senior analyst at Jupiter Communications, said. She also questioned whether people would pay for online advice and raised concerns about consumer privacy, therapists' credentials and patients' safety. According to Dr. Russ Newman of the American Psychological Association, "We wholeheartedly support the dissemination of mental health information through the use of telecommunications - - but we haven't been trained for psychotherapy over the Internet." Brothers maintains, however, that the site is not meant to replace "traditional therapy" and will offer users local listings for trained professionals (Rewick, 5/15).