Technology is offering promising results for the improvement of mental health. The advancements in apps and mobile technology have the ability to create a virtual appointment session with licensed clinicians, book appointments, or just send a text when you need to talk to someone. This coupled with virtual reality advances is transforming the way people address mental health in the 21st century. Ira Riklis discusses how technology is changing how we address mental health in this blog.
Mobile apps have taken away some of the stigma associated with mental illness. For many, talking to a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist is an option they refuse to consider. They feel as if they have already failed if they agree to see a doctor. However, the mobile arena allows you to maintain that sense of anonymity. To address the growing mental health crisis many software and app developers are looking for ways to enhance the mental health treatment experience and even provide a way to replace some forms of therapy themselves. The number of mental health associated mobile apps has risen in the past few years and offer some key advantages.
Some of the advantages of mobile apps for mental health treatment include:
- Convenience: Get treated anytime it’s right for you. This can happen on the subway during your daily commute or alone at home while sitting on the couch. This is a healthy start for people who are afraid to get help in-person. It’s a good icebreaker for those unwilling to commit to weekly therapy sessions. For some, this might be the answer you’ve been seeking all along. It can provide a listening ear and for some, it may provide the encouragement and push to seek help in-person. A common excuse for people is that they do not have enough time. Mobile apps allow you to create a space and setting that works best around your schedule.
- Anonymity: No one has to know if you don’t want anyone to know. It’s that simple. No calling to make appointments or need to get friends or family involved. For some, this is a critical component and major draw to mobile app technology.
- Cost Effective: For many health insurance plans, mental health cannot be covered or comes with higher co-pays, a lack of providers, or annual caps. The mobile app technology allows a lower cost introduction to mental health treatment than an in-person visit may cost.
- On-Call: Therapists are more accessible via mobile app technologies. This provides a company with the ability to provide 24-hour treatment, care, intervention and support for those seeking mental health therapies. Timing can be everything. This provides someone when you need them most.
- Consistency: Most mobile apps settings allow users to keep up to date with treatments and appointments. Apps have the ability to send reminders and schedule appointment times just as any standard mental health office would.
- Co-Exist: For those who prefer a continuous treatment option with a clinician face-to-face, there may still be some benefits from a mobile app to complement those sessions. When you need someone to talk to, the mobile app is there to reinforce behavioral therapy techniques taught during your face-to-face session. It keeps your treatment on track and can be a wonderful partner for your mental health.
Virtual reality (VR) technology continues to be a new technology that everyone wants a piece of, including the mental health arena. With its ability to simulate a real-life environment, mental health professionals are determining how they can utilize this technology as a patient treatment option. According to research, a growing means of utilizing VR is through exposure therapy. It’s a treatment option that safely simulates frightful situations for participants. This is particularly useful in treating people with phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder. It combines its treatment with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a common method of treating these disorders. The goal for some developers is to eventually create virtual therapy sessions which have the ability to take treatment to levels never seen before.