Young professionals fixated with mobiles are turning for help over 24-7 'on' culture.

Smartphone use around the clock is ‘becoming normalised’. Stock picture
Young professionals are increasingly presenting with mental health problems and underlying addictions to their mobile phones thanks to a "24-7 'on' culture".Dr Amy Watchorn, a senior clinical psychologist at St John of God hospital in Stillorgan, Dublin, said she has spotted a trend of people presenting with depression and anxiety but once she scratches beyond the surface, she sees unhealthy fixations with mobile smartphones.
"Some people can't leave it behind them, they're constantly on 24-7 and this affects their mental health," Dr Watchorn told the Irish Independent."I'm seeing it in professionals, there's cross-pollination with international companies, especially a lot of digital companies, a lot of having to connect with different time zones and workers not being able to turn off."It's becoming normalised and it's tacitly expected for workers to be on-call rather than leave the desk at 5pm and this bleeds into normal life."For professionals, there are ways of looking at this they need to use the ability through work or willpower, to disconnect, take time off the web, enforce breaks using apps to stop seeing notifications, break free." Dr Watchorn advises professionals to limit the use of their smartphones during the evenings and to adopt the "digital detox concept".' The Lancet Psychiatry' journal earlier this year published a study by professors at The University of Glasgow. The research which concentrated on more than 91,000 participants, found that being online during the night could increase the likelihood of psychological problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder and neuroticism. But Dr Watchorn said there is a lack of such research in Ireland and on a wider scale."There are no statistics in the hospital, as smartphone addiction is not clinically diagnosed," she said. "(Problematic smartphone use) is definitely there and it's on the rise, the more we are connected with these phones."It's 11 years since the first smartphone but in terms of how many people addictive smartphone use effects, all I can say is in my own practice, it's increasingly problematic and particularly with younger people."Though she believes smartphone use is increasingly an issue for mental health, Dr Watchorn said there was no turning the clock back."We have to embrace this technology as part of our lives and learn ways to manage the difficulties with keeping smartphones for a time and place and utilising practices like mindfulness," the psychologist said."People used to think smoking was OK but when the research caught up, we realised smoking can kill you. Some people are checking their phones 50 times a day and not everyone can put them down."Dr Watchorn said schools needed to start teaching children how to use smartphones responsibly for their mental health and employers had to start being mindful of the effects the overuse of such technology could be having on their workforce.