CMHC encourages students to unplug, reconnect with selves

Audrey Zhang

UT students are pledging to “unplug” from technology in order to reconnect with themselves and their peers this Friday.

Unplug UT is a campaign run by the Counseling and Mental Health Center that concludes this year’s Mental Health Promotion Week. Students can sign a pledge online to “unplug” for any amount of time and spend the time doing more fulfilling activities.

Psychology senior Gustavo Molinar, one of the students that helped propose the initiative, said the campaign targets students’ well-being.

“It’s intentionally placed at the end of the week so students have the ability to practice self-care,” Molinar said. “Unplugging allows students to take care of themselves and recognize how being too plugged in affects mental health.”

Katy Redd, assistant director for prevention and outreach at the CMHC, said taking the time to unplug improves student health and performance.

“We know technology can benefit us tremendously,” Redd said in an email. “And there are times when taking a moment to put down our devices can be helpful so that we can authentically connect to the people around us. Research shows that downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages creativity, and is essential to achieve our highest levels of performance.”

Molinar said the constant presence of social media can fuel unhealthy and competitive attitudes.

“We see others doing fun things or things we wish we could be doing, but we don’t really see the holistic person,” Molinar said. “No one really talks about the struggles that we’re facing. It’s important to understand that we shouldn’t be competing with others, that everyone’s experience is different, and that we’re doing the best we can.”

There are many ways to balance technology use with unplugging, Redd said.

“I’ve heard some students who try not to be in front of screens an hour before bedtime, or turn their phone off when they’re having a meal with another person,” Redd said. “Whatever works for you.”

Biology freshman Justin Yun said he took the pledge because he often experiences the detriment of being too plugged in.

“I just cannot sit still without glancing at my phone every five seconds,” Yun said. “Sometimes this has really isolated me from the outside world, and I feel less connected with people. Instead of being on my phone all the time, I can spend time with friends or even just enjoy the weather doing nothing.”