Mental health and technology


by Dawn Huffman

Mille Lacs Health System

If you prefer texting to actual conversations, you might want to pay attention to research that says it may be harmful for your mental health. Mental Health Awareness is highlighted during the month of October. Social networking sites can have a major impact on your mental well-being. It is true that social networking sites can enhance a person’s contact with others, but over-use can cause mental health issues that have a negative impact on your well-being by way of depression, or feelings of disconnect. Roy Neumann, Licensed Practical Clinical Counselor who sees patients at Mille Lacs Health System said, “Social media has become a double-edged sword. In moderation and with strong boundaries around its use, social media and messaging can be good things but, they can also become addictive and interfere with real-life relationships or even one’s job.”

While social networking sites help you stay connected, it is important to note that they can also disrupt real-life interactions. It has changed the way people communicate and interact for adults as well as teens. Along with distracting us from genuine conversations, quality time with others, and fully enjoying the moment at hand, Neumann said, “These technologies have made bullying and peer pressure a 24/7 struggle for many people. People will virtually speak their minds in a way that they will not when looking at a person face-to-face.” 

The best way to ensure good emotional well-being is to make sure that you are reaching out to people offline by having real face-to-face interactions with people who care about and support you. Make sure to give your mind a rest by stepping away from the phone or computer to get fresh air and exercise. Set firm boundaries on the amount of time that you are online and steer clear of content and platforms that bring you down or evoke negative responses. 

It is also important to seek help when you are experiencing unhealthy online interaction. “There are numerous options available online to find help with crisis intervention such as the National Crisis Text Line, Txt4life program or Lifeline Crisis Chat as well as some Minnesota-specific options,” said Neumann.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive symptoms, anxieties, or low self-esteem, speak to your healthcare provider about setting up an appointment with a mental health counselor. Mille Lacs Health System has licensed professional staff that can assist you with your mental health needs.