Understanding the Link Between Technology and Mental Health

Understanding the Link Between Technology and Mental Health

Madan KumarApr 6, '23

Conversations around mental health a need of the hour 

Over the past decade, we have been witness to a considerable decline in the mental health and well-being spectrum as a collective. Every day gives rise to a new situation or a problem and with insufficient access and fewer modes healing to help our minds combat these sudden changes, a lot of us experience sudden and unexplained lows. Conversations around mental health have been brought out from under the table to become round table talks, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to healing as a collective.  

The link between technology and our minds 

The technology boom may have come as a boon in many ways, but it also came at the cost of humanity’s collective mental health. We are surrounded and often bombarded by more knowledge than we have been trained to process or assimilate. In such over stimulating environments, the brain is constanly coming up with coping mechanisms of its own in order to combat a rising set of newer problems. To add to that, when our coping mechanisms aren’t sufficiently trauma-informed, they end up causing us more harm than good. 

Ofcourse as it is with any new technology, it has had both positive and negative impacts on our overall mental health. Because on one hand technology makes it harder to cope with the influx of information, but on the other, it also acts as a tool to inform and spread awareness on how one can cope in today’s day and age. On the positive side, technology has made mental health resources more accessible than ever before. People can now access therapy and counseling services remotely, and mental health apps can help individuals track their moods, manage stress, and improve their overall well-being. Additionally, technology has also paved the way and made room for greater awareness and discussion around mental health,thereby reducing the stigma that surrounds it and increasing support for the community.

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Rise in the use of Social Media 

There are also negative impacts of technology on mental health. One of the most significant is the rise of social media, which has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Social media can create unrealistic expectations, exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness, and contribute to the spread of misinformation about mental health.

Social media has had a significant impact on mental health, both positive and negative. On the positive side, social media has provided a platform for individuals to connect with others, share their experiences and ideas, and find support and resources for mental health. It has also enabled individuals to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health.

Mood disorders: 

Social media can contribute to depression in several ways. One way is through social comparison, where people compare their lives and accomplishments to others they see on social media. The curated images and information presented on social media can create an unrealistic portrayal of other people's lives, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and depression.

Additionally, excessive use of social media can interfere with sleep and lead to poor mental health outcomes, such as anxiety, depression, and several other mood disorders. Studies have also shown that social media addiction can lead to compulsive behavior, which can have adverse effects on mental health. 

Cyberbullying & harrassment: 

Social media can also be a source of cyberbullying and online harassment, which can have severe impacts on an individual's mental health. Overuse of social media can also have negative effects on one’s overall mental health and wellbeing. The constant exposure to curated images and information on social media platforms can lead to increased social comparison, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Social media can also lead to a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), which can cause anxiety and depression.

Cyberbullying and online harassment are major concerns on social media and can have severe impacts on an individual's mental health. Individuals who experience cyberbullying can experience feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation, leading to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Disruption of sleep & insomnia: 

Another way social media can cause depression is through the disruption of sleep patterns. The constant stimulation and exposure to screens can interfere with sleep and lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Poor sleep quality can cause mood disturbances, fatigue, and other negative impacts on mental health.

Addictive & compulsive behaviours: 

Excessive use of social media can lead to an overstimulation of our brain resulting in addiction and compulsive behavioral patterns, which can have adverse effects on one’s overall mental health. People who spend excessive amounts of time on social media can neglect their responsibilities and relationships, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, and depression.

Overstimulation through social media can look a lot like depression through means of constant social comparison, cyberbullying, disrupted sleep patterns, and addiction. It is essential to use social media mindfully and in moderation to maintain good mental health and maintain an overall balance. It is also crucial to seek help from mental health professionals if you experience symptoms of depression or other mental health problems.

Overall, social media has had both positive and negative effects on mental health. It is essential to use social media mindfully and in moderation to maintain a healthy balance and prevent negative impacts on mental health. 

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Increase in addictions and erratic behaviours 

Furthermore, technology can also lead to addiction and overuse, which can have negative effects on mental health. Excessive screen time can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. The constant stimulation and distractions that technology provides can also make it harder for individuals to focus and engage in meaningful activities.

Overall, technology has had a complex impact on mental health, and it is important to be mindful of both the benefits and drawbacks when using technology in our daily lives.

Common factors contributing to decline in mental health 

There are numerous factors contributing to the decline in mental health today. Some of the common factors include:

  • Increased stress levels due to work pressure, financial strain, and social expectations.
  • Social media overuse and addiction, resulting in anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
  • Lack of physical exercise and sedentary lifestyle contributing to an increased risk of mental health conditions. 
  • Increase in phone-usage thereby numbing and sometimes even altering the brain’s processing centers. 
  • Lack of working knowledge on how to set boundaries and maintain them. 
  • Stigma surrounding mental health that keeps people from seeking help. 
  • Isolation and loneliness due to modernization and changing lifestyles. 
  • Insufficient or inadequate mental health resources and education in schools and communities.

These factors, coupled with the stigma surrounding mental health issues, often prevent people from seeking help, leading to a further decline in mental health. It is crucial to raise awareness about mental health issues and provide accessible resources and support to those in need.

It is never too late to seek help: 

Whether it is you or someone you know that suffers from a poor mental health situation, it is important to remember that help is near. For those of us who know someone suffering, there are small ways we can lend our support to show that even though our mental disposition may say that it is the end of the world, all we need is a little perspective shift. 

Sometimes, it is okay to pick up the phone and seek help when a loved on is unable to do that for themselves. Knowing that it is okay and safe to talk about one’s struggles is the beginning of the journey toward recovery.

While there are several online platforms that offer guidance on mental health, for more severe cases, it is most recommended that one seeds a specialist. Meeting a therapist face to face helps hasten the process of healing as the treatment approach includes stimulating all of the senses while being physically present. 

There are small ways we can help ourselves when seeing a specialist is no longer an option and some of those ways are by reading up and talking to other people who have been through similar struggles. It is when we start speaking up that we come to find out that the world is tied together by some experiences that are all too similar, and that together we can help one another find the rope back to themselves.  

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Bringing the conversation out into the open: 

Healing yourself is connected with healing others too. - Yoko Ono

The best way to tackle the taboo surrounding mental health is by breaking the stigma attached to it and bringing the conversation out into the open. Right from companies to brands, to office spaces, shops, businesses, schools, colleges, homes, tourism hotspots, training centers and more, we can lift the veil on the conversation surrounding mental health and together pave the way for a healthier and equitable future for all. Leaning in to another’s needs and lending our support is one of the best ways to remind each other and ourselves that the world is a less lonely place when we can trust and rely on one another. 

If you or someone you know needs professional mental health support, our blog on the top five mental health support groups online is a great place to start your quest.

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