A friend of mine, Joshua, is the founder and chief executive of a mental healthcare tech company. He often tells me that people reach out to him, asking him how they can get money to seek therapists’ help. They’ve been having mental health issues for months but have not sought professional help. “What’s going to happen to me in the future? Is there hope for me? Where am I going?” These are vital questions that focus on major unresolved problems. Fortunately, if one looks at particular technology trends today, we can slowly begin to attend to these questions and offer concrete solutions. There is hope for those who need mental health therapy. Here are some reasons why.
- People who are mentally ill will be able to acquire free mental health treatment – or almost free – due to large amounts of data collection.
“A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either.” – Deborah Serani, PsyD
The software used for clinically efficient treatment can collect a large amount of confidential data regarding patient behavior, which is very important to researchers and others who want to improve research on mental health. Thus, software companies are bound to give cheap or free treatment options because there’s more data that they can gather when more people utilize their technologies. It’s a win-win for everybody – for the patient who wants and needs professional treatment, for the software companies who are looking to improve their industry, and for the technology researchers who want to contribute in enhancing patient care for the future.
- New technology will inspire qualified tech supporters to offer more access to people who need mental health therapy.
“I see mental health apps being very useful for people who cannot get to sessions as often as they would like, but I do not view them as a substitute for therapy,” –Tanisha Ranger, PsyD
Currently, mental health professionals go through a lot of obstacles just to obtain information about their patients. Now, with qualified peer supporters and digital technology working hand in hand, healthcare professionals will be able to save on time spent treating their patients because the peer supporters are there to help these patients on and off therapy sessions. For instance, if a therapist is currently treating 30 patients monthly for four sessions per month, he can now possibly treat 60 patients monthly for two sessions per month, as their patients can contact support tech on their own 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Virtual reality can now assist in mental health therapy in improving and achieving productivity.
A lot of certified mental health professionals in America have been setting up virtual reality environments specifically focused on patient treatment, and the results have been more than favorable. Mental health therapy has benefited so much from VR, as professionals can conveniently administer customized treatment procedures into their practice. An example would be patients who have a fear of getting outside their houses, or agoraphobia. They can be treated initially by letting them use a VR headset that allows them to see the outside environment instead of having to expose them directly to a real setting, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Of course, safety precautions must be put in place before using virtual reality for mental health treatments, but it is indeed awesome technology.
- Because of social media and smartphone adoption, the stigma on mental illness will slowly be reduced or eradicated.
“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” –Jim Taylor Ph.D.
The prevalence of social media and smartphone usage has become a great source of information on mental health for people who do not know a lot about it. As more and more details about it are spread and publicized, more people will be able to comprehend the importance of consulting professional help, because it is ‘okay to not be okay.’ Additionally, people who have been to therapy and were successful in their treatments will come forward and share their positive experiences, allowing more people to understand mental health better.
Tech companies, in turn, will use more of their software to add awareness to the public to be able to reach out to more people who think there is no hope for them. Ultimately, this will result in more people living healthier lives.
- Mental health professionals will soon prescribe mobile applications, just like they are prescribing medications.
With the popularity of smartphones, a lot of people are currently spending more of their time online. Consequently, tech companies are positively taking advantage of this by developing mental health treatment applications to help people get efficient care if they are unable to regularly visit a therapist or other mental health professional. Recent research and studies on the effectiveness of mental health apps have been positive, and very soon, professionals will be counting on them more to help them manage their patients.
It is the job of technology industry entrepreneurs to utilize their knowledge and help people solve more meaningful problems, such as mental health. They are part of the ones who should take responsibility in transforming the mental health system, as there are still many countries, India, for example, that are struggling with mental illness. Technology has the power to make the future brighter for everyone.