Technology has revolutionized the way we live, work, and communicate. From smartphones to social media, we are more connected than ever before. But what is the impact of technology on mental health? Let’s explore the relationship between technology and mental health, examining both the positive and negative effects.
The Good: Technology and Mental Health
Technology has unlocked a new frontier in mental health treatment, management, and support. Mental health apps, for example, are providing individuals with convenient and anonymous treatment options. Additionally, online communities and support groups are fostering a sense of security and providing safe platforms for people to discuss different topical issues on how to improve mental health. For instance, the Maisha Fiti Wellness Program is a platform that promotes mental health awareness to reduce stigma associated with mental illnesses.
Technology is also offering a powerful tool for therapy. Teletherapy, or online therapy, has become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing individuals to access mental health services from the comfort of their own homes. This greatly benefits individuals who live in remote areas or have difficulty accessing in-person therapy.
The Bad: Technology and Mental Health
While technology can be a valuable tool for promoting mental health, it can also have adverse effects. Social media, for example, has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. A recent report by Social Media Consumption in Kenya noted that social media platforms have a reinforcing nature and can push anybody into mental health problems. The constant comparison to others and pressure to present a perfect life online is resulting in negative mental health outcomes.
Technology is also addictive. The constant notifications, alerts, and updates can create a sense of urgency and lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. Research has shown that excessive use of technology can even change the brain’s structure, leading to decreased attention span and poor impulse control. A 2020 survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics found that 53% of respondents reported experiencing stress due to excessive use of mobile phones and the internet.
By Njeri Jomo
CEO, Jubilee Health