5 ways technology is helping us improve our mental health
Mental health is one of the many subjects which has often been overlooked in the past. It is safe to say that it is treated as a taboo subject in many parts of the world.
However, as we are evolving as a society, mental health is no longer seen under the microscope of negativity as it was before.
A number of celebrities from different countries, royalty, and other renowned personalities have come out to share their stories regarding their battle with mental health.
Thanks to elevated awareness levels pertaining to mental health, it is easier to talk and discuss problems including anxiety, mental illness, and depression.
As more and more humans are understanding the intricacies of mental illness, technology is also proving to be a great source of help.
Today, technological solutions are doing an amazing job at improving mental health and treating common mental health problems.
In this article, we will touch on a few technologies that are helping people to improve their mental health.
Technology and mental health – a match made on earth to give heavenly feels
1. Virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a state-of-the-art technology that is at a nascent stage. However, the strides taken in this space have been nothing short of impressive.
VR technology is proving to play a key role in the field of mental health. VR headsets can assist patients desensitizing patients who experience post-traumatic stress disorder by recreating their personal triggers.
It helps them cope in an environment they are familiar with such as their therapist’s office or their home. Studies suggest that VR can also help patients who suffer from mental disorders, anxiety, and depression.
2. Applications to improve mental health
If you browse through the Google Play Store or explore Apple’s App Store, you will notice that there are a plethora of applications available for banking, weather, productivity, leisure, and more.
Mental health applications have also garnered a significant amount of popularity over the past decade. While the first batch of mental health applications was seen around 2009, cut to 2022, and the picture has changed completely.
Today, a whole new category of applications dedicated to mental health is notably seen across app stores for Android and iOS users.
Since applications can be used anywhere since they are installed on a mobile device, the demand has soared over the past few years, especially among the younger population worldwide.
Mental health applications primarily focus on three core areas including stress, anxiety, and mood.
Some of the most popular applications that are developed to improve mental health are Talkspace, Pacifica, Moodnotes, and Calm to name a few.
3. Prescription video games
Around June 2020, the FDA approved the world’s first-ever prescription video game.
Although this technology will take a lot of time to become a mainstream solution to address mental health, it has taken baby steps in the right direction.
There have been talks about this futuristic-sounding treatment for quite a while now. It has now become a reality.
At this moment, the prescription is primarily designed for kids between 8 to 12 who are suffering from ADHD.
The video game is called EndeavourRX and encourages these patients to stay focused while multi-tasking within the game environment.
It is one of the most exciting technology tools that harness the modern kid’s natural habits to measure improvements in their mental health.
4. Smartphone and AI-assisted therapy
We have entered the era of artificial intelligence (AI) and trends back this.
AI-driven tools have grown in demand over the past five to six years. Some of these tools include AI chatbots that help patients manage their mental health-related symptoms between appointments.
Smartphone applications including Ellipsis have the ability to analyze a patient’s speech and voice patterns to identify signs of emotional distress.
Although these tools are not likely to replace a human counselor, they will serve as an assistant who provides 24/7 support and intimate the provider in case intervention is needed.
Mobile and AI technologies are expected to accelerate the development of the next generation of teletherapy.
The pandemic changed the course of teletherapy in 2020 as many traditional providers used teletherapy 1.0 in 2020 out of compulsion. In all fairness, it was nothing more than live Zoom sessions.
Teletherapy 2.0 is a completely different ball game altogether as it integrates inputs from different modalities including application usage, real-time symptom tracking, and AI-powered signals.
Each of these modalities produces valuable data that improve patient outcomes significantly.
5. Digital symptom tracking
Manually tracking mental health symptoms is inefficient and time-consuming. On your introductory therapy visit, you fill out a paper form, and then report any new symptoms at each in-person appointment.
Those symptoms are recorded in an electronic health record, which is generally not suited for data analysis. Online symptom tracking, on the other hand, encourages patients to share data on a daily basis.
An AI-powered computer evaluates the data to spot patterns and inform providers in real-time if there are any red flags. The least futuristic-sounding solution we’ve identified here is digital symptom tracking from firms like Symple, but it’s actually a vital step toward improving mental health treatment for the future.
Technology and mental health will go hand in hand in future
Technology has improved different areas of our lives. However, we have only recently started to leverage its benefits to improve mental health.
AI-driven applications can minimize paperwork, build real-time data streams, and enhance treatments. Video games and VR have offered tremendous potential in helping individuals deal with mental health conditions by helping them practice skills in a virtual, yet very realistic environment.
Digital symptom tracking is another area that has picked up pace in the last few years, and this technology is expected to do wonders in the mental health and digital wellness space.
While there has been a lot of debate and talks about the negative effects of technology on our lives, there are good things happening due to technology as well.
What do you think about the role of technology in improving mental health? Which side of the spectrum do you lie on? Leave your comments below and tell us what you think.
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