Why a digital detox is not the answer for your clients these holidays

Why a digital detox is not the answer for your clients these holidays

In your last client consults for 2022, what holiday wellbeing advice will you impart?

With isolation and loneliness at all-time highs, and outrage, hatred and division abounding online, recommending a break from digital media over the holidays might seem a wise, if not obvious, choice for your patients (or even yourself)!

For many, these holidays might be the first opportunity since pre-2020 to spend time physically with family and friends, so why not enhance that time with a defined break from toxic social media, addictive online games and trashy news feeds?

Well, because that might just be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

While it is true that many online spaces seem to be doing more harm than good these days, recommending a blanket ban on digital media misses an important nuance: there are many digital destinations out there that can improve mental health.

Out there in the digital landscape are scores of safe, effective, evidence-based digital mental health products, co-designed, tested and run by dedicated teams of psychologists, researchers, consumers, and IT experts.

Yes, out there on that digital buffet piled high with junk food, sugary snacks and other vices lie some veritable digital superfoods.

A completely restrictive digital diet, even just for the holidays (especially just for the holidays!) may mean that clients might potentially miss out on helpful (and healthful!) mental health tools when they need them most.

Digital mental health products, namely those already vetted and promoted on the sites of trustworthy authorities (Head to Health and eMHPrac, for those of us in Australia), can support mental health in numerous ways:

  • Treatment for common mental health issues
  • Positive psychology skills for overall mental wellbeing
  • Credible, accurate mental health information
  • Safe, moderate online spaces to connect
  • Crisis support via multiple modalities (phone, text, chat, video) with trained supporters

So, by all means, discourage your patients this holiday season from the harmful habitats of social media and other online spaces where content is driven by the profit incentive and wellbeing is an afterthought. But don’t demonise all digital media and make sure you guide people towards the trustworthy tools and services that are there to serve them, support them and help navigate them through what can be one of the most stressful and triggering times of year.

Below are some examples of Australian digital mental health resources that clients and patients might find particularly helpful these holidays. For a more extensive list, check out or ‘Managing Your Mental Health Online During the Holidays’ factsheet. This factsheet is available to download for free through our Resource Library connecting health professionals, families and individuals to a wide variety of suitable services.


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Online courses for a range of issues. Includes assessment, feedback, and therapist support.

Mental Health Online logo

Mental Health Online

Online programs and information for a  range of issues including anxiety, depression, and stress/wellbeing. Programs include assessment, feedback, and therapist support.

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Online CBT programs for a range of different issues. Self-help and clinician-assisted options available. Visit the Learning Hub for comprehensive information about the mental health issues that THIS WAY UP offers programs for.


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An easy-to-use smartphone app, guiding users through a 30-day mental fitness challenge to build resilience and wellbeing.

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Bite Back (for young people)

Online activities, psychoeducational, and positive psychology aiming to promote wellbeing and resilience in young people (12-25 yrs).

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A website for frontline health and wellbeing workers to easily access culturally relevant resources to use with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. Includes videos, apps, podcasts, and other websites.

Managing Consumption

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Daybreak App

An app to help individuals change their relationship with alcohol, with professional and community support.

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Counselling Online

Telephone and online counselling for alcohol and other drug users and their families and friends. Self-help modules are also available. Registration is only mandatory for self-help modules or to create an optional profile for future counselling sessions.


A website focused on harm reduction, containing blogs and stories, a comprehensive set of drug information, and later in 2021 a 24-hour chat service moderated by peer educators.

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Gambling Help Online

24hr telephone, online and email counselling, support and information for identifying and dealing with problem gambling.

Crisis Support during the holiday shutdown

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13 11 14

A crisis support and suicide prevention phone and online chat service.

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Suicide Call Back Service

1300 659 467

24hr phone and online counselling for people at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide. Registration is required for online counselling.

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 13 92 76

Australia’s first Indigenous-led crisis helpline providing 24/7 telephone support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.