In our day to day lives of distraction, work, and the internet, we face several stressors. By acknowledging them, it reminds us to take a break, steady ourselves and focus on our personal well being. According to the World Health Organization (2017), globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, while 260 million live with anxiety disorders.
Hence, in the world that we live today, mental health has become extremely important. Our emotional, psychological, and social well being is vital since it determines how we deal with relationships, handle stress, or even make choices.
Fortunately, the world of technology has paved the way for new ways to make mental health care more accessible and convenient.
If you feel that it is becoming difficult to deal with the daily stressors of your life and you need additional help and support, check out the various online resources available on MyTherapist. As a client, you could learn to understand yourself better, practice coping strategies and also maintain a balance in life with the support of a licensed mental health practitioner.
How is technology impacting mental health care?
- Using a Screening test.
Online screening tests can be one of the easiest and quickest methods to identify whether you face any symptoms of mental health conditions.
These online tests can be used as a starting point for getting the help that one may need. These results are brief and are merely informational, not diagnostic. Hence, they need to be shared with a licensed mental health professional for a complete assessment, therapy, and treatment. However, these tests can certainly provide some insight as to what sort of mental health conditions exist, and how they may be affecting your life.
- Access to Online Directories
With the fast-changing technological landscape, information is at our fingertips. A quick google search can enable anybody to access online directories of therapists available in their areas.
Communication can be established through emails, messages, or calling to book appointments. Some directories also come with handy reviews or cost of sessions, making it easy to choose a therapist for oneself.
A world gripped in the deadly hands of the Coronavirus has gradually shifted everything online. Teletherapy has increasingly become a common phenomenon for people to continue seeking support from their therapists. Teletherapy comes with all the same benefits of typical therapy sessions with a licensed counselor or psychiatrist, but all your meetings are done online.
Teletherapy can be conducted through video conferencing, telephonic conversations or even mails and messages. This allows the clients to choose the medium that suits them best.
Online sessions can be helpful for people living in remote or inaccessible areas. People with disabling conditions that prevent them from attending physical sessions or even those who want to save time can take advantage of the online mode.
It allows the therapist to interact with a client in a comfortable setting which also seems to be less clinical.
- Chatbots for Therapy
AI-powered chatbots can be used as an interactive means of therapy. It can drive behavioral interventions based on the emotional needs of the individual. Many of these bots, such as Wysa, Woebot have proven to be effective in the initial stages. They exhibit skills in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and even restructuring of thoughts. The platforms are attractive, easy to use and very user friendly. Like any artificial intelligence, these bots learn with time, and will hopefully become increasingly effective in treating mental health conditions.
However, these chatbots cannot be used as a replacement for human support. In case of extreme cases, it is best to consult a licensed mental health professional.
- Mobile Applications.
The field of software development has rapidly expanded. Anticipation about the massive number of opportunities in this field has led to a burst in mobile application development. There are hundreds of mental health applications available online. These apps can be used for individuals with specific conditions like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder or they can be used by people looking for more general mental health help. They can track moods, thoughts or even help individuals stick with treatment plans.
The apps could also be used for coping strategies, memory enhancement or mindfulness. Applications like Calm can be used to meditate, practice mindfulness, or improve sleep patterns and schedules. These applications can be effective in dealing with day-to-day challenges by making your mind more calm, focused, and sharp.
Mobile applications come with their own disadvantages; hence it is essential to choose the right ones. The most trustworthy applications are typically affiliated with government bodies or academic research institutions.
- Using Virtual Reality for treatments
Therapists are increasingly using new ways to incorporate technology in their treatments. Exposure therapy is used for individuals suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder. Virtual reality treatments have been used as tools in clinical trials.
Often therapists use computer games online, especially with younger clients, to get them to be more interactive, relaxed, and talkative. These games can also be used for social skills training.
- Data collection
Data collection applications can be used to collect information from a large audience which can be used for research purposes.
Application developers are working with researchers to develop apps that could collect information like voice tone, behavior patterns of calling and text through the sensors of the smartphone.
This cannot replace a licensed practitioner, but it may alert the therapist when a client needs extra attention.
Key takeaways :
Technology has paved the way for a new frontier in mental health support and care. However, it is increasingly important to choose the right online resources for any decision related to your personal well being. This world is full of uncertainty. It is best to consult a licensed mental health practitioner before taking any steps. The journey of mental health can be enriching to receive the kind of support and the compassion you may need in your life.
About the Author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.