Science fiction has long touted that technology is the key to improving human existence. Many fantastical visions focus on enhancing healthcare with high-tech solutions. Popular ideas include holographic doctors programmed with the accumulated medical knowledge of the centuries and stand-alone robotic stations that can perform complex surgical procedures without human assistance.
Of course, countless medical tests, procedures and equipment types already make use of advanced technology. But tech used in daily life by the average person is also making inroads to improving mental health. Things like personal computers and software, the Internet, smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are producing beneficial results in at least three key ways.
It is a staggering fact that more than twenty percent of adolescents age 13 to 18 suffer from a mental illness, and more than half of them go undiagnosed. In light of this, concerned and innovative developers are seeking to combine teens’ love for technology with the need for detection and prevention of mental illnesses.
One way to accomplish this is to give adolescents tools and strategies to care for their own mental health. By empowering individuals in this way, they are able to better understand the key factors that contribute to their own mental fitness. This also makes them more likely to recognize issues and take appropriate action.
A unique game called ReachOut Orb offers engaging play with a serious bent. Through interaction in a virtual world, players improve their mental fitness and well-being. Through playing the game, users are able to:
- Come to understand a positivity mindset
- Identify and use their own strengths
- Develop and sustain positive relationships
- Build resilience
Increased Access to Treatment
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford traditional treatment options. According to the Office of Adolescent Health, ten percent of adolescents lack insurance and, even when they are covered, the amount of mental health services they can receive is often limited. Aside from financial issues, additional personal, social and geographic factors also make access to needed mental health services less likely.
Here again, technology is helping to make a difference. Mobile developers are creating applications that make treatment options as close as the teens’ cell phone. Over 1,500 depression-related apps are available for download in the iTunes App Store. Since depression is the most prevalent mental health disorder among adolescents, greater access to help is a definite plus.
Many of these apps provide community-based support through specialized social networks where those involved remain anonymous. This can help overcome the stigma often associated with mental illness and may actually improve the chance of teens seeking help.
Others apps provide live coaching or therapy sessions with trained professionals. These can occur through specialized programs or through common ones like Skype or Facetime. While some of these services charge a fee, they are still significantly less expensive than more traditional in-office sessions.
An example of this type is Pacifica. This app is designed as a self-help resource for those suffering from anxiety disorders. Pacifica uses therapeutic technology and incorporates principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation and wellness to help users break the cycle of anxiety.
An important aspect for treating mental health illnesses is the continuing management of recovery. For many mental disorders, treatment is not a once-and-for-all accomplishment but requires ongoing administration to maintain effectiveness.
This recovery management involves numerous aspects, including further education, record keeping, medication reminders, progress monitoring and more. Technology is providing tools that help many to manage important daily tasks that help improve and maintain their mental health.
MyPsychTES is an example of an online website platform that utilizes technology for these very purposes. Not only does the system connect patients to therapists and counselors, but it also uses smartphone apps to track emotions and lifestyle, providing real-time data, automated communication tools and alerts.
The features of MyPsychTES help professionals monitor patients’ progress and tailor treatment options effectively. It also aids patients in moving away from dark thoughts and provides positive affirmations or exercise routines through their mobile phones.
At this time, unlike the far-out proposals of science fiction, these technologies should be seen as supplementing, not replacing, other common forms of treatment. But new innovations continue to provide helpful tools for improving mental health, and the advantages are too significant to ignore.
To learn more about mental health and how we can help to provide treatment for mental illness, give us a call at 877-466-0620.