3 Ways We Can Lean into Tech for Mental Health

There is a lot of discussions to be had about our generation and the growing generation under us. Depending on which website I look at, I am at the tail end of the Millennial Generation OR the very beginning of Generation Z. Regardless, there is a difference in what kind of stressors we as a younger group have to deal with and a BIG difference in what technology we have access to. 

Through this article, I am not attempting to determine if the state of the world is better or worse for our generation than previous... nor am I saying if it is harder or easier to deal with. I AM, however, saying it is different. 

How we experience the world is different from our parents and the older generations. How we learn to cope with the world is different too. 

Our generations seem to be leaning into tech for help. A few interesting ways we are leaning into tech:

  1. 1. Social media: When anonymity gives people an emotional safe landing spot and stepping stone.

    I recently was asked to collaborate with a brand called “Relatable Mental Health”. The brand intrigued me because of its simplicity and its direct offer and goal. How it works: It is a website where you can submit your short story anonymously. The story gets reviewed then goes on Instagram and Facebook. THAT’S IT. It provides a way to interact with social media in an anonymous way. A place to put your words and your experience publicly … in a private way. It’s a form of validation.

    What is neat to think about (and a bit of a mind puzzle) is that BECAUSE of social media, we have different mental health difficulties developing in our younger generations, BUT we also have cool services like this popping up. Chicken/egg. Problem/solution. Solution/problem… a big puzzle. 

    Also interesting is the way we are learning how to utilize these new technologies in ways that are helpful to us. We are seeing a shift in our mental stability from the usage of social media. Many argue it has caused a lot of harm, but many people still show ways of how to use social media positively. BuzzFeed’s writer, Syd Robinson, put together this list: “22 Mental Health Instagram Accounts That’ll Make You Feel Less Alone”. It’s a cool list… I just followed them all. 

  2. 2. Digital therapy: Access to health services in a new format with AI. 

    One of my good friends has told me about a type of service she has started to use in place of journaling in a notebook. She started a service where you get to direct message an Artificial Intelligence therapist. She talked about how it was nice to have responses back from something, even though she knew it wasn’t “real”. It felt good to be “listened to” … rather than just typing or writing to a page. 

    From some quick internet searches and reading a few articles, many people seem to have opinions about these types of services. As many people might have heard, Woebot from Facebook offers these types of services. Vice writer, Justin Caffier, tells his story with Woebot and his few weeks of working through his depression. Although his story dates to a year and a half ago (a huge time in terms of tech growth), it still brings up some good points in terms of current technological ability vs. human ability. Justin notes his frustrations with the canned responses and feelings of not being “heard” (he’d sometimes have to repeat himself). 

    Overall though, how interesting that we as a society are supplementing services with technology. (And you can’t really beat the price point – FREE.) 

  3. 3. Digital long form communication: How Reddit can be a place for group healing. 

    A different friend of mine deals with some pretty dark stuff and she’s shared with me how Reddit has completely become a place of safety and help for her healing. She deals with a handful of really intense difficulties and has found communities through Reddit of people dealing her struggles too. From the many articles of Subreddits on mental health, it is easy to see how Reddit has become a platform for any member of a group to find one another and have fruitful discussions. 

    Some gem of the internet, of the name Zach Schleien, took the liberty to create an awesome and MASSIVE list on Medium.com of Mental Health Subreddits for your use: https://medium.com/@ZachSchleien/subreddits-for-mental-illness-6d48f5766d9a

    Among the list are threads like ADHD, BiopolarSOs, Eating Disorder Hope, and SO MUCH MORE.

XOXO to you my mental health friends. Rock on with your healing self and kudos to you for trying. And continuing to try. And trying more even when you don’t feel like trying. ROCK ON!!!!