Mental Health in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise

Mental Health in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise

Mental Health in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise

Mental Health in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise

Synopsis

The Internet and related technologies have reconfigured every aspect of life, including mental health. Although the negative and positive effects of digital technology on mental health have been debated, all too often this has been done with much passion and few or no supporting data. In Mental Health in the Digital Age, Elias Aboujaoude and Vladan Starcevic have edited a book that brings together distinguished experts from around the world to review the evidence relating to this area. The first part of the book addresses threats resulting from the growing reliance on, and misuse of, digital technology; it also looks at how some problematic behaviors and forms of psychopathology have been shaped by this technology. This section reviews problematic Internet and video game use, effects of violent video games on the levels of aggression and of online searches for health-related information on the levels of health anxiety, use of digital technology to harm other people, and promotion of suicide on the Internet. The second part of Mental Health in the Digital Age examines the ways in which digital technology has boosted efforts to help people with mental health problems. These include the use of computers, the Internet, and mobile phones to educate and provide information necessary for psychiatric treatment and to produce programs for psychological therapy, as well as use of electronic mental health records to improve care. Mental Health in the Digital Age is a unique and timely book because it examines comprehensively an intersection between digital technology and mental health and provides a state-of-the-art, evidence-based, and well-balanced look at the field. The book is a valuable resource and guide to an area often shrouded in controversy, as it is a work of critical thinking that separates the hype from the facts and offers data-driven conclusions. It is of interest particularly to mental health professionals, but also to general audience.

Excerpt

Elias Aboujaoude and Vladan Starcevic

The Internet and related technologies have reconfigured every aspect of life, and mental health has not been immune to these changes. Although much has been written about electronic challenges to psychological well-being (e.g., violent video games) and seeming digital wonders (e.g., online therapy), a balanced look at the field—one that celebrates the “good” and acknowledges the “bad”—has been elusive, with most scholars firmly planting themselves in one camp or the other. With the lack of crosstalk between the two sides nearly as old as the Internet itself, the time is ripe for an objective, comprehensive assessment of the intersection between mental health and digital technology. It is very much in this spirit that we conceived of Mental Health in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise and assembled its expert contributors. a result of reading the book, we hope, will be a nuanced appreciation of the opportunity, risk, and all-round complex richness brought about by this unique collision.

Risks and challenges

The first section of the book focuses on the menace to psychological well-being from the growing reliance on, and misuse of, digital technology, and on the ways in which some old forms of problematic or deviant behavior have been shaped by this technology and some new psychopathologies have been introduced. Since the first reports of “Internet addiction” emerged in the mid-1990s, much research has accumulated into the phenomenology, course, and pathophysiology of this condition. in Chapter 1, Aviv Weinstein and Elias Aboujaoude review that research, offering an up-to-date picture of the conceptualization; etiological factors; epidemiology; course; coexisting psychopathology and health problems; associated personality, social, family and cognitive factors; and psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatment of problematic Internet use. the authors also address the controversies and shifting diagnostic definitions that have plagued the field since its inception and conclude that although knowledge has increased exponentially, there are many unresolved issues that call for further research.

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