Smartphones May Be Good For Your Mental Health

While many people are familiar with the drawbacks of smartphones and social media on their mental health, there is research suggesting that these resources may actually be good.

There is a lot of research into how Facebook and other social media avenues can lead feelings of jealousy and depression, but there hasn’t been much publicity on the good side of these tools. An estimated two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, and new research is emerging to show that smartphones and the apps that they run can actually have a positive effect on mental health. Here’s how you can take advantage of your smartphone to help boost your mental health and wellbeing.

Social Media

The advent of social media has led many to experience “FOMO” or “fear of missing out.” By seeing people leading lives that seem infinitely more interesting, social media users run the risk of feeling insignificant or inferior to their friends. On the other hand, social media has opened up the world in ways that were impossible 30 years ago. These days, people can connect with others anywhere in the world.

A 2012 article published on The Guardian, titled How Social Media is Supporting People With Depression by Dr. Tim Anstiss, explores the ways in which social media helps people with depression reach out and connect with others with the same illness. Anstiss states, “Online chat, discussion and support provides many other benefits to depressed people – feelings of connectedness, not being judged, reassurance that things can and do get better over time, or that the painful or empty feelings of depression can be tolerated.” Smartphones make it easier to connect to social media and other internet-based resources, making it possible for anyone to connect with similar people from anywhere in the world. This feeling of being connected can contribute to overall wellbeing. 

Apps

With the rise of the smartphone has come the development of the app. These days, there is an app for anything you can think of, and many things you never knew you needed. Included in these apps are many for boosting mental health. Users can find everything from a digital life coach to apps that help connect people who are thinking of committing suicide with resources they need to get better.

Huffington Post recently published an article titled 8 Ways To Use Your Phone To Benefit Your Mental Health by Lindsay Holmes, which outlines helpful apps for mental health. Included was Mood 24/7, which Holmes describes as follows: “Whether you’re already seeking help from a professional or just personally interested in the fluctuations of your emotions, this service is designed to be a more consistent form of help. Users are encouraged to monitor their moods through a daily question sent via text message.” This and many other apps are available to help with wellbeing, and they are available at your fingertips. 

Diagnostic Tools

In addition to connecting people with mental health disorders to one another, apps can also help mental health sufferers learn more about their illness and how to treat it. Some apps can even monitor a person’s physiology and help the user figure out when he may be experiencing an episode.

Wired magazine recently profiled apps that help to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia by acting as a monitor. In the article How Smartphone Apps Can Treat Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia, author Davey Alba chronicles a patient named Bryan Timlin, who uses an Android phone to help signal symptoms of his disorder. “The phone, provided by researchers at the University of Michigan, includes an app called Priori that runs constantly in the background, using the phone’s microphone to analyze his voice and track when he is, and isn’t, speaking.”

As with any new technology, smartphones have their pros and cons, but for those who want to monitor their mental health, these devices offer a wealth of tools. From diagnosing symptoms and better managing treatment to reaching out to others and eliminating feelings of isolation, your smartphone can serve as an excellent resource.