Much of the health technology industry focuses on physical maladies, from high blood pressure to diabetes, but technology can also offer new ways to treat mental health disorders. Learn more about the following four most powerful mental health care technology innovations.
Smartphone Apps Help People Cope With Anxiety and Depression
Far fewer mental health apps exist compared to apps devoted to physical health. However, Medsphere Systems Corporation CEO Irv Lichtenwald reported in Healthcare IT News that users can access about 800 apps devoted to mental health. These apps help users cope with symptoms, share their stories, and complete calming, repetitive actions.
Not only can mental health apps benefit patients, but they can also provide useful data to physicians, therapists, and health care informatics experts. Since people carry their phones wherever they go, the apps can collect valuable information and record valuable data. Many of these apps focus specifically on depression and anxiety disorders.
Mobile Apps Can Also Help People Who Struggle With Addiction
The mental health field covers many different conditions and disorders, including alcoholism and addiction. Writing for Healthline, Kimberly Holland and Kristeen Cherney described several smartphone apps dedicated to alcoholism. Each app offers a different benefit for helping people stay sober.
For instance, one paid app automatically connects the user to a mental health professional. People in crisis can use this app to access professional support outside their therapists’ regular office hours. Other apps offer daily meditations, alcohol consumption trackers, and access to visualization exercises. Alcoholics Anonymous also has a 12-step app that follows its program’s progression.
People Can Find Guidance Through Internet-Based Support Groups
Many people don’t feel comfortable attending support groups in their hometowns. Others don’t have the time during regular meeting hours. According to Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post, websites such as the Big White Wall have offered alternatives in the form of Internet support groups.
Since the Big White Wall allows users to remain anonymous, people can feel comfortable revealing their struggles and engaging with other participants. Sun noted that the site offers Talkabouts, which allow users to communicate with one another, as well as “educational resources and courses led by mental-health professionals.”
Telehealth Could Improve Access to Mental Health Care
In addition to apps and Internet portals, telehealth, consulting with a health care provider via phone or video conference, offers promising opportunities for health technology. David Yeghiaian, an administrative director at Holy Family Memorial health care services, said, “74 percent of U.S. employers plan to offer telehealth in 2016.”
According to Yeghiaian, telehealth offers many advantages for mental health treatment. The services reduce costs, help patients feel more comfortable, and improve access for patients who can’t or won’t see a professional in person. He noted that video conferencing can prove more beneficial than phone calls because video fosters human connection and bonding more efficiently than mere audio communication.
While mental health technology may lag behind some technological advancements in physical health, the technology is gaining momentum nonetheless. Through this technology, thousands of Americans can benefit from better access to mental health care.
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