In the past few decades we’ve experienced a pace of change never before felt by humans. The march of technology has brought us the ability to keep up with anyone, anytime; learn about breaking news on the other side of the world as it’s happening and maintain complicated social interactions even when we are physically alone.
It’s simultaneously great and awful. And while this connectedness has widened our horizons and given us almost superhuman access to knowledge, it has also had a less than amazing impact on our mental health. So in issue 37 of Factor magazine we turn our attention to mental health and technology, both as a cause of and solution to the problem.
With our online activities forming such a significant part of our lives, and the ability to track much of what we do online, it is hypothetically possible for people to be monitored for signs of depression based on their online use. We consider whether the approach is a good idea, or whether it’s too much of an ethical minefield to achieve.
Then there are personal digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa. A few years ago they were getting considerable flack for failing to provide appropriate mental health support, but are things any better now? We find out.
Over on the professional side, licensed therapists are not known for their embrace of technology, although that is slowly changing. We consider whether online tools can help, hinder or even replace the role of a professional counselling service.
Plus, we also look at some of the statistics on how technology and social media is affecting our wellbeing, and find out how digital services are attempting to help improve our state of mind.
On the more futuristic side, we could soon be transforming our mood by targeting specific brainwaves with custom music. We investigate how this could work, and whether it could be a viable way to improve our mood, as well as looking at some of even more out-there plans for neurotechnology from major names such as Facebook and Elon Musk.
And if that wasn’t enough, we also look at how virtual reality is taking off in the music industry, ask whether politicians should be learning more about technology and unearth the lesser-known history of the videogame Half-Life.