The connection between technology and our wellbeing is clear, but not always positive—as many social media users can likely attest. Thankfully, recent advancements in technology are heading in a positive direction when it comes to mental health.
Discover the developing technologies that are transforming behavioral health treatments and improving the lives of people everywhere.
MENTAL HEALTH APPS
Perhaps the biggest development in the telemental health space is the explosion of mental health apps, with a countless number now readibly available to smartphone users. With more than 20,000 on the market today, there’s an app for just about every area of behavioral health, from general wellness apps to software geared towards specific mental health disorders.
Wellness apps generally track basic parts of a user’s everyday lifestyle. Meditation apps, for example, can help promote mental wellbeing, but can’t replace traditional therapy, and aren’t necessarily meant to.
Digital therapeautics are more hands-on. Unlike traditional wellness apps, digital therapeautics involves actively engaging with behavioral health patients and their treatment plans, rather than general users.
While there are important differences between the incredible number of apps available today, they all serve to increase access to essential mental health care while helping to lower the costs associated with in-person care.
ADVANCEMENTS IN AI
From forecasting COVID-19 with AI-powered analytics to using AI-assisted CT scans, artificial intelligence has made its way into all corners of the healthcare industry and continues to make waves in telehealth. One of the more recent advancements is the increased interest in using chatbots powered by natural-language processing (NLP). The goal of chatbots is to create human-like interactions and provide targeted recommendations based on the individuals current mental state, which is analyzed using sophisticated language processing tools.
Artificial intelligence in relation to social media is also gaining more attention for similar reasons. While platforms like Facebook have been using AI in suicide prevention efforts for years, research around the topic continues to grow. Dartmouth researchers, for example, have been looking at new applications for AI. Rather than using an AI model to scan the specific content of social media posts, their AI model focuses on the underlying emotions of that text. The ultimate goal is to improve upon current models and create a more effective method of providing targeted mental health interventions through social media.
VR MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENTS
Similar to artifical intelligence, virtual reality technology isn’t a new concept in the mental healthcare industry, but it continues to become more sophisticated as software developers and medical professionals work to improve its effectiveness.
Daniel Freeman, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford, and his team recently launched gameChange, a VR program designed to relieve the argoraphobia that individuals with schizophrenia often experience. With 346 participants, this study is the largest that’s been conducted on a mental health condition.
Of course, VR therapy still has its barriers, such as the costs of the technology and data privacy concerns. However, advancements in VR present significant opportunities to improve the lives of patients. For instance, in exposure therapy sessions, which are often used for individuals suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, VR allows clinicians to tailor the content to meet the patient’s needs in real time. Once this technology becomes more affordable and widely used, it could signifcantly improve access to more effective treatment.
iTether: More Than a Mental Health App
As technology continues to develop, it needs to continue supporting people’s wellbeing, which is why our fully integrated telehealth platform is built to foster meaningful connections between behavioral health patients and their providers while delivering measurable outcomes. Contact us today to learn more about how we’re improving the success of behavioral health services.