The uprising of technology is a cumulatively increasing phenomenon of our time. Like everything else, this ever-accelerating world offers its blessings as well as its evils when it comes to technology. And one interesting talking point about those conflicting traits is the effect on the mental health of humankind.
Good mental hygiene is probably one of the most important requisites for an individual to function. While there are many factors influencing the broad and versatile spectrum of one’s psyche, technological aspects are gradually taking their hard-earned place among them.
The positive impacts
Let’s start with a happy, hopeful, life-affirming tone, much like how one should start their day, for good measures of mental stability.
Diagnostics for mental disorders
Mental issues and disorders are often hard to diagnose due to their symptoms often being ambiguous. Only seasoned psychiatry professionals used to have the expertise to do so. And even for them diagnosing wrong can be an entirely plausible scenario.
So, while this process is not to be fully automated anytime soon, there might be some tools that can make the job of diagnostics a lot easier and more precise for psychiatrists. There have already been software tools such as a brain profiler to help this cause. Apart from that, since physical attributes can also be a good indicator of mental condition, the use of wearables and IoT devices to get physical measurements can also be helpful to draw mental correlations and causations. And artificial intelligence can help us find complex patterns in human behavior and psyche to get a better, more accurate, and precise diagnosis and treatment of such disorders.
The connectivity that today’s tech-savvy world offers can be quite a blessing if rightly used. We can instantly call up a loved one when in distress, or plan a trip for a day of mindfulness. We just have to keep in mind that technology is merely a tool, which is there to help if somebody is mentally sound in the first place.
Specialized communities can do wonders under the right circumstances. And this gets proved with even greater confidence within the vastness of the internet. There are millions of helplines, mindfulness applications, support group finders, and counseling opportunities within the bounds of technological advancements. In other words, when it comes to mental support, robots probably cannot replace people, but technology is there to facilitate that support in a broader capacity. All in all, this means broader access to proper mental healthcare.
The expectable demerits
Now let’s talk about some of the negative sides that seem to have a persisting effect.
“People are glued to their screens” is a very prominent reality these days. The every day hours we spend looking at a screen are often ridiculously high and that has become a concern for the mental well-being of the whole of humanity. Whether it be for work, communication, entertainment, or whatever other reason, we’re slowly building up a tendency. A tendency to get everything done via the means of virtual interactions. And that might lead to mental as well as physical problems in the long run. People are already reporting a loss of mental drive, fatigue, blurry vision, feeling burned out, and various other physical and mental issues where unnatural amounts of screen time seem to be a dominating culprit.
Studies have also shown that excessive screen time is causing mood disorders in children. So, to keep our young ones and adults from getting burned out, we must take aware of this issue.
Ironically, the same technology that connected us, has left us the most isolated at the same time. Especially since the covid outbreak in 2020.
And that lack is of ‘real human interaction’. Virtual means are okay when you’re trying to convey information or for a quick reconnect with people, but some things aren’t quite transferable via screens. Such as empathy, affection, or the feeling of safety that someone is ‘beside’ you. And lack of these humane necessities is leading many to psychological disruptions.
A necessary balance
We already have established that technology is both a beneficiary and an adversary when it comes to peoples’ mental welfare. So what can people do to maintain a balance to reap the benefits but stay out of the downsides of tech, for their mental wellbeing? Let us see:
- Practice a routine where a balance between time spent offline and online is established
- Keep the children and younger generation stimulated with non-technological entertainment, such as books, puzzles et cetera.
- Keep a track of their own mental health and the mental health of their loved ones, be it via the means of digital technology or by themselves.
- Do a ‘dopamine detox’ every now and then.
- Have a positive and hopeful outlook toward life.