Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More
Some time in the next few weeks, MHN will be undergoing a historic change. The most obvious part of this change will be a redesigned home page, and a new overall look and feel for the website. Beneath the surface, however, the changes will be even more substantial.
MHN was founded in November 1995, almost six years ago at the dawn of the Internet era. Like many sites designed in the mid 90s, MHN was a static website. Each page, each article was stored as a separate file on our computers. This worked well so long as we were small. As we have grown larger, however, this static structure has become more and more unweildly to manage. By the time I came on board as the new Director for MHN in 1999, the solution to this problem was clear. We needed a content management system – a complex software program that helps organize a website so that enormous amounts of information can be managed and presented with ease. But the easy path to a content management system was blocked by the shear expense involved and the difficulty in finding investors to help bear this expense in the post Internet Bubble economy.
It has taken many months and more than a little creative thinking, but we will shortly be debuting a new MHN website entirely based on a sophisticated content management system custom constructed to our needs. All of the stories, news, link reviews, etc. from the old MHN site have been lifted from their old static files and have been placed into the new site. Much of the grunt work involved in operating the website has been automated so that it will be more efficient to run. Also, the increased capacity of the new website to handle high volumes of information means that we will be better able to keep the site up-to-date, and also to bring you new features and services (such as vastly expanded news feeds) that were not possible before.
With the new content management system software and the re-organization of the website will come a re-organization of how the website operates. While we have partnered with other websites to bring you news and information in the past, MHN has always operated as an independent website. Going forward, MHN will become the basis for what we are calling the CenterSite Network. We will be partnering with community mental health centers, hospitals, behavioral health institutions and large group practices around the world to create websites representing these institutions’ services to their local communities. Each CenterSite website will feature the core MHN content, but will be additionally personalized to display local news, links, logos and information unique to a participating institution. It is the hope of all members of the CenterSite Network that this local behavioral health news and information, in combination with MHN’s award-winning global content, will aid in better connecting people to sources of local treatment. Feel free to send me an email if you wish to know more about how your organization can participate in CenterSite. Of course, the MHN website you have come to know and love will continue to exist as well at the old url (http://mentalhelp.net).
There is a lot more to say about these exciting changes, but we’ll leave discussion of them for another time.
Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.