Five Ways Technology Helps Deal
With Mental Health Issues
Mental health has been taboo for a long time because of the negative stigma associated with mental illnesses. Due to this, people have faced barriers to accessing quality mental healthcare. However, we have seen tremendous progress in this respect over the years. Today psychotherapy and psychiatry have made treatments available for numerous mental health illnesses. A lot of this can be attributed to the technological advancements taking place. With continued progress in technology, we can expect better service provision in the near future; but before we move ahead, let us first discuss the various ways technology has helped deal with mental illnesses so far.
1. Increased access to mental healthcare
In the past, mental healthcare was available only to those who could visit a facility or a therapist and had the financial means to pay the bills. Today, technology has opened healthcare doors for patients who do not wish to or cannot leave their homes. There are apps available to access live therapy sessions by therapists through videoconferencing. Some apps provide therapeutic interventions like cognitive-behavioral techniques and relaxation training for mental illnesses like anxiety. You can now access family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and psychoeducation online, either as live interaction or recorded lectures. It cuts down on travel costs and makes mental help available to many who could not afford it before.
Such telehealth mental health care has made the interaction between a patient and a psychologist or psychiatrist much more convenient and widely available. It also reduces the impact of any stigma as patients can seek treatment from their homes without necessarily informing others. In addition, telehealth is beneficial for certain illnesses like social anxiety and autism where the patient does not prefer social interaction. Research proves telepsychiatry to be no less effective than in-person care and producing equivalent patient satisfaction.
2. Mental health apps for follow-up
Psychological interventions for mental illnesses do not end with therapy sessions; it is more prolonged. Follow-up sessions are necessary to keep track of the patient’s progress and continue recovery management. Follow-up typically involves continued psychoeducation, progress monitoring, record-keeping, etc. Technology has largely taken over this process through apps that the therapist and patient use. Many smartphone apps track the patient’s emotional progress and lifestyle.
Interestingly, today technology can identify if the patient has suicidal ideation or is about to experience a manic or depressive episode. It does so by tracking things like typing speeds and syntax. Similarly, a lack of social interaction might suggest a depressive episode. Such identification helps healthcare providers intervene in time, especially when the patient is unwilling to report back themselves.
3. Virtual reality (VR) for healthcare service
Today, Virtual reality is a huge part of mental health treatment, diagnosis, education, and counseling. VR is typically used either for stimulation or interaction. For instance, in diagnosing addictive disorders, VR can produce a scenario that usually results in addictive behavior to observe the patient’s response.
VR is widely used in systematic desensitization treatment for phobias like claustrophobia or acrophobia. The patient is exposed to the phobic stimulus using VR instead of real-life exposure and practices relaxation techniques simultaneously. The relaxing feeling may reduce the anxiety caused by the stimulus over time. Such exposure may also treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Similarly, autistic children or patients with social phobia can be taught social interaction skills through VR exposure. This is an excellent alternative to real-life exposure, which may have severe consequences for certain patients.
4. Apps to deal with mood disturbances and anxiety
You may not feel the need to seek therapeutic help for anxiety that causes distress. However, you might need help for mild or prolonged sadness. Today, technology has opened doors for informal but professional psychological assistance for such problems. For example, mental health apps help you diagnose and overcome anxiety through relaxation techniques, deep breathing, and guided meditation. These apps mostly have user profiles that contain personal information. You can also allow the application to share the data with therapists directly in an emergency.
With some apps, you also get a community feature to connect with other people facing similar issues. Such mental health apps have opened doors to self-treatment and made it easier for anyone to seek professional help, even for mild concerns.
5. Google screening for diagnosis of mental health conditions
Google search has long been a tool people use to look up symptoms of medical illnesses. Google recently launched clinically validated tools for mental health self-assessment. Users can now look up these diagnostic tools on Google if they suspect symptoms. These Tools for disorders like PTSD and Depression are those that healthcare professionals use, so diagnosis is valid. The diagnostic information is kept confidential, so there is no breach of privacy. After diagnosis, you can also access relevant resources. Research shows that nearly 1 in 6 individuals between ages 6 and 17 annually experience a mental health disorder, and such diagnosis helps individuals diagnose themselves and seek treatment.
Mental health issues are prevalent, yet many do not get the psychological or psychiatric assistance they need. This was particularly true for the past generations. Today, we have come a long way because of technological developments that have made mental healthcare much more accessible. You no longer have to visit a therapist for mild anxiety concerns and can use mental health apps for self-management and to see an improvement in symptoms. Telehealth has opened doors to treatment within the security of your home, and treatment interventions have been modified with technology like VR. With continued technological advancement, we can also expect such progress in mental healthcare in the future.
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