We associate technology with convenient access to essential online services and a range of communication platforms, but we don’t usually connect the benefits of computer use with increased brain activity and improved mental health.
We associate technology with convenient access to essential online services and a range of communication platforms, but we don’t usually connect the benefits of computer use with increased brain activity and improved mental health. Mental Health Week, October 7–13, raises awareness about mental health and wellbeing in the community and, through education, aims to dispel the stigma attached to mental illness and support those affected. Technology has a key role to play in enabling all members of society access to the information, resources and channels that can help to improve lives, and a recent study even suggests that computer use can play a part in delaying dementia.
Researchers in Perth collected information about computer use in older men between the ages of 65 and 85 in a study conducted over eight years. This was an observational study that took into account a number of factors including participant’s education, age, socio-economic background, and physical health. While it is known that people with higher education levels and those who remain mentally active have a lowered risk of dementia, researchers found that at the eight year follow-up assessment men who reported regular computer use had a 40% decrease in the risk of dementia.
The men who participated in the study used computers and online technology to communicate with others, maintain networks and relationships, keep up-to-date with local and global news, track finances and bank online. The early results from the study show that embracing technology as part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle can enrich lives, build eclectic knowledge, keep people connected to their community and play a part in delaying dementia through increased mental activity.
Infoxchange has delivered a range of projects that use technology to create positive social change, and through our Digital Inclusion Initiatives we have helped people to become digitally proficient and participate more fully in their community. In 2011, Infoxchange partnered with the Victorian Government, Microsoft and other organisations in the Ageing Well at Home with Broadband project. The project trained and connected elderly people in Brunswick, Melbourne with technology tools that enabled them to stay active, mentally stimulated and connected with their friends and networks from the comfort of their own home.
Infoxchange also works to connect people with health and welfare services through our online community directory. Service Seeker is Australia’s most extensive health and welfare directory that provides up-to-date community information. The directory holds over 290,000 agency records, which includes over 20,000 mental health services across Australia.
Technology can play a significant role in connecting people with valuable resources, helping them to actively participate in their community and feel socially included. Treating mental illness and improving mental health and wellbeing require a variety of approaches, and the role of technology should be considered as a part of this.
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