Technology developments are heavily criticised within the media, from social media being criticised for causing higher youth depression rates to video games being blamed for poor mental health. However, there are pioneering technological developments that are working hard to improve the way we handle and treat mental health.
The integration of mobile phones, storing and collecting vast amounts of data, in modern society is an integral part of improving the care given to those with poor mental health. New software developments with new mental health orientated apps are suggesting that it will soon be possible for data to be collected to create a picture of a person’s current mental health. For example, the app would collect date such as the number of calls/messages sent, tone of voice used in calls and sleep patterns etc. This would allow a change in someone’s patterns to be detected by the app. This will especially benefit users who suffer from seasonal depression or depressive episodes that return in patterns. The app will allow the user to know exactly when they are likely to be entering an episode, allowing them to seek the appropriate help from health professionals before they suffer from the effects of prolonged poor mental health.
Further ambition within the health industry is to connect the health professionals to the information people’s mobile phones are collecting, to allow these health professionals to not only have a wider knowledge of their patients’ activities but to also allow them to reach out to their patients when they sense it would be most effective to do so.
With every part of the health sector always seeking to improve the quality of health services and understanding, research on a global scale is becoming ever more important. If mental health research centres can collect data from these apps it could transform the scientific understanding of mental health, with more data than ever before being accessible and processable by psychologists. This could lead to vast improvements to the treatment of mental health – allowing people worldwide to experience much higher mental wellbeing.
Technology is now also offering many individuals the ability to consult mental health professionals remotely, allowing those feeling unable to open up in person to be able to be delivered the professional and unparalleled advice that trained professionals can give just as they would if they made a traditional appointment.
There is also talk of therapy AI, computers that will be able to learn how to give appropriate advice to individuals based on how they act and what they say. Evidently, this technology is in its very early stages. However, such technology could allow for practically 24/7 advice available, specifically tailored for each individual.
Technology truly does hold the potential to transform our perspective on, understanding and treatment of mental health illnesses.