Saturday, 14 Apr 2018
Is the Internet good for our mental health?
By Private Therapy Clinic
Can the Internet help our mental health and well-being, or is it a challenge that can just make everything worse?
The answer to both questions is “yes” – and “no”.
People suffering from mental or emotional health issues often turn first to the Internet in an effort to find answers to their questions. Depending on how they use the Internet, and interact with the people they meet there, they may find it an invaluable resource, or their Internet use could risk making their mental or emotional health issues even worse.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons:
- Forums of people with similar issues who come together and swap advice and stories about what has worked for them can be invaluable. While it is obviously important to be under the care of a qualified professional for anything serious, feedback from potentially thousands of people with similar problems can be a great way of finding support.
- However, it is important to find a group that is predicated around helping people to get better or manage their symptoms more effectively, rather than a group that simply reinforces the condition. For example, there have been horrifying cases of people with anorexia and other dangerous mental health conditions finding support from Internet groups for their damaging behaviour, rather than for useful ways of working to overcome it. It goes without saying that one should avoid groups that reinforce damaging behaviours.
- The Internet can be a very useful source of advice about medications and supplements that can help with a wide range of conditions. However—and it is a big however—you should never start taking anything without consulting a professional to confirm that it is a good idea. Above all, medication should not be purchased over the Internet, as there is no way of knowing if it has been subjected to proper quality controls. You need a professional to make sure that any changes to your medication or supplement regime will be good for you. Unregulated taking of medication can be a very serious risk to your health.
- Friendships formed and conducted over the Internet can be a fantastic source of emotional support, and can be just as real and meaningful as IRL (In Real Life) relationships. However, they should complement real-life contact, rather than replacing it. For emotional health and well-being, it is essential to have face-to-face contact with people we care about. If you find that you are spending more time “with” your online friends than people you know in person, it’s time to turn off your device and invite someone to meet up for coffee or a drink. Too much reliance on the internet for relationships can lead to social anxiety in the real world.
The Internet has changed the way we live our lives. It’s up to us to ensure that we use it wisely!
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.