Technology is continually advancing and we are all being pulled along with it, whether we like it or not. In the field of mental health care, the integration of technology into treatment options has brought about many new possibilities for improved plans and greater outcomes. Throughout this article, we will delve into exactly how technology has transformed the mental health space for the better.
Increased Access To Services
Everybody is entitled to mental health support but it’s well known that the more remotely you live, the less likely a person is to be receiving mental health support. This is not necessarily because they don’t want or need the intervention, but more likely because they don’t have the access. Technology has changed this with the ability to now have telehealth and videoconferencing sessions.
This type of servicing allows practically anybody, anywhere to access mental health services without the need to travel long distances to a clinic or office space. This technological advancement not only assists remotely located individuals but also those with anxiety disorders, mobility issues, and those who may be lacking in transportation.
The notion of individuals personally overseeing their mental health is still quite novel, even though it is not necessarily a new concept. A mood tracker, more officially known as a mental health tracker, offers this. Designed to help people monitor their mental health and habits by tracking moods, feelings, stress levels, and symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other similar mental health conditions.
These apps, while highly useful for monitoring personal mood and mental health trends, should always be used in conjunction with professional support services to ensure you are getting the best holistic treatment possible.
Mental Health Apps
Further to mood trackers, there are now between 10,000 to 20,000 mental health-related self-help apps available. Downloads in the US reached 4 million in April 2020, and in 2018 it was identified by Apple that self-care apps were the App Trend of the year. An app is something individuals can access whenever suits them and not something they can feel pressured and unready to participate in, like attending a physical appointment.
A person suffering extreme anxiety may not wake up in a good head space and miss their physical appointment, and, as a result, compound the feelings of anxiety leading to a lapse in treatment. An app is a good way to check-in with yourself and work on your mental health at a time and place that best suits the individual.
While mental health is more commonly understood today, there is still a lot of stigma that surrounds mental health, and a persons willingness and capacity to talk about it openly is often hindered. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. are anxiety disorders.
With 40 million adults or 19.1% of the population aged 18 and over being affected by an anxiety disorder every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable but due to pervasive stigmas, only 36.9% of sufferers seek help. Technology can play a part in reducing this number by providing the ability for online support groups and forums.
Through these tools, a safe space is created, and people can share their experiences and connect with others suffering from similar afflictions. These forums can also be used discreetly, without the need for individuals to provide their name or any other identifying information, promoting more open and honest dialogue amongst peers.
Personalized Treatment Options
With technology continuing to advance every day, pioneering new treatment options are also being brought into play. Virtual reality therapy has recently started being utilized which allows for treatment tailored to each patient’s specific fears and phobias. This provides a safe space for the person to be fully immersed in their experience with the idea of overcoming a particular fear or phobia. Additionally, machine learning technology algorithms are on the rise.
Commonly mistaken for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning algorithms are a derivative or sub-field of AI. At the most basic level, a machine learning algorithm receives and analyzes data, predicting output within an acceptable range. A machine learning algorithm can identify patterns and try to explore different options and possibilities, and improve the monitoring and evaluation of each potential result. This allows a person to easily track their mental health progress or digression over time and learn from the information presented.
We are all living increasingly busy lives, and as a result, mental health can take a back seat, especially when we need to take time out of our days to book physical appointments, organize time off work, and factor in any potential travel time. Technology has changed this and brought with it improved convenience to the user.
Telehealth appointments can be scheduled and easily conducted either inside or outside of regular working hours, and even undertaken whilst carrying out daily tasks, such as walking the dog, commuting, or cooking dinner. This ensures mental health is now working around you and with you instead of the reverse.
Technology has, and continues, to improve mental health support and its outcomes. Technology not only reduces the fear and stigma around procuring support, it has allowed individuals who may not have been able to access mental health support in the past, to reatain these valuable services in a number of personalized, achievable ways.