How Software is Changing the Mental Health Industry
Our reliance on technology has impacted multiple aspects of our lives, including how we research and find the right mental health professional for our situation. As mental health treatments go digital, millions of patients are getting quicker access to health care professionals. Let’s take a look at why increasing mental health accessibility through software is a good thing.
Flexible, Discreet, and Affordable Care
Getting access to medical care is a massive problem for many Americans. Going to a good therapist can cost upwards of 90 dollars per session, which is out of reach for most adults. 25% of Americans said they had to choose between mental health treatment and daily necessities, while ⅕ Americans had to choose between getting treated for physical or mental health.
WHO estimates that ⅔ of people living with a mental disorder never seek help, and the barriers for reaching optimal mental health services never seem to end. From stigma to costs, to confidentiality most Americans will avoid speaking to a professional if they can help it.
However, with mental health apps, patients don’t have to commute to the office, pay ridiculous fees, or try to work around a set schedule. There are multiple apps available on the market today that can provide science-backed mental health advice that can fit around anyone’s needs.
Streamlines Admin-Related Work
Mental health professionals typically wrote prescriptions, client dates, notes, and patient records all by hand, but that can get confusing quickly. Not only do you have the chance to lose important information, but it also takes a lot of time and effort better spent on something else.
Software is used to streamline admin-related work, which frees up time the mental health professional could spend on speaking to patients. For example, mental health EHR systems can manage treatment plans, coordinate clinical treatments, counseling, and rehabilitation, and help teams stay on track with regulatory requirements. Plus, it has an e-prescribing option.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
With artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, mental health software can determine a person’s mood based on how they scroll on their phones or type on the keyboard. Other apps can use smartphone sensors to understand behavior patterns, like how often they visit websites. If the app sees an issue, they’ll call a family member or psychiatrist.
Apps that are capable of determining a patient’s state of mind will become more widespread as the technology becomes more sophisticated, but we already have examples of incredible software. For example, Woebot, an AI-enabled robot, can actually boost a user’s happiness.
Therapy Via Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has already been used successfully to treat PTSD because it allows the therapist to put a person in a situation that caused the disorder in a safe environment. For example, phobias can be treated through virtual reality in the same way as seen by the Oxford VP experiment, which puts people afraid of heights on top of tall buildings to overcome their fears.
Other disorders will likely be soothed through virtual reality someday, and startup Limbix is trying to make that happen. Their technology is helping hundreds of people treat addictions, anxiety, and depression through guided meditation and mindfulness within the headset.
There’s even a virtual reality software that allows the psychiatrist to see through the patient’s eyes to gauge their reactions and how they’re adjusting to therapy. With this software, mental health professionals can improve the patient experience based on their stress levels.
Gaming for Mental Health
Plenty of industries have started to see the benefits of gamifying their technology, as it helps their users complete complex tasks without making it a slog. SuperBetter is an excellent example of this because players earn points when they complete exercises, break bad habits or overcome stressful situations. However, even traditional gaming is said to aid mental health.
In mid-2020, the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first video game treatment for ADHD. Gazzaley, the researcher who conducted the experiment, found that a video game called Neuroracer improved concentration and performance in adults with ADHD.