Do you keep informed about the latest news and developments on the mental health front?

It's quite easy these days. You don't even need to go web surfing. With customized email alerts you can have relevant news and other timely content come directly to your email inbox.

You may already know about Google alerts, where Google will send you email with links to news and/or websites which match keywords that you specify.

Here are some more alert services:

Yahoo alerts: Similar to Google alerts, but since Yahoo and Google use different search algorithms, the results from each may be different. Also, Yahoo offers alerts via text message as well as email.

Twilert, a Twitter app, will send you email updates of tweets that match your keywords. You can specify tweets from specific people (e.g., journalists or authoritative sources) to help filter out irrelevant content.

SocialMention aggregates content from dozens of social media sites in addition to Twitter.

Other news alerts: CNN, New York Times and other news outlets offer alerts via email and/or text. Also, consider getting alerts from your local news media. There may be an opportunity for you to post a comment online at your local news site - which will draw the attention of reporters and members of your community.

Tips for setting and managing your alerts

Be specific. The more general your keywords, the more links you will receive in your email alerts. If you find that most of the links are irrelevant, change your keywords to be more specific.

For example, a keyword such as depression will bring you dozens or hundreds of links to news items mentioning depression. If you're interested mainly in depression among divorced men, you'll get more relevant links when your keywords are divorced men depression.

Schedule email alerts. With Google and Yahoo, you can choose to get email alerts as they happen (which can be overwhelming) or once a day. Google allows, in addition, the option of getting alerts once per week. Twilert and SocialMention send out emails once a day.

Route news alerts to a designated email folder. Create a folder in your email interface just for news alerts. You can move selected news alerts to this folder after reading them in your inbox. Or set a rule in your email program to automatically send all alerts to this folder. That way they won't clutter your inbox, and you'll also be able to find them easily when you have time to read them.

Share your finds. When you see an informative news story in your email alerts, send a tweet about it, or write a blog post. Not only will your sharing help inform others; it will also help establish your online presence as an expert.

For tips on subscribing to news and other content via RSS, see my related post, Save time by aggregating new content from your favorite sites"