May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this has been a year full of new and increasing stresses. With COVID-19 forcing us to shelter-in-place, mental health, like many other industries, needed to pivot. Although the pandemic created a larger conversation around mental health, technology is playing an important role in making it more accessible.
Acceptance and Ease
As technology has evolved, consumers have become more equipped with the ability to keep their health connected. There are devices that monitor health, apps to upload data, and even smartwatches that can track heart rate and input stress levels. As a society, we have become more comfortable with using this technology to keep our doctors informed of our physical and mental states. This easily gives doctors a holistic picture of our health on a day-to-day basis. It also gives physicians and psychiatrists the ability to collaborate for better treatment.
Apps That Keep Us Thriving
Telehealth was a new, seemingly uncertain term that was thrown around pre-pandemic. Quickly, it became a necessity. Apps and technology made it easy to talk to therapists and psychiatrists over the internet to continue or start treatment. Now as things are opening back up, the ability to have a session no matter their location, is a comfort and a win. Technology has made it possible for services to be strictly online and offer the ability to text or talk to a professional 24-7. These advances have made addressing mental health more accessible and affordable for many people.
Apps have also played an important part. There are apps to track stress levels on your phone which, by doing it daily, can help therapists see patterns that may emerge. Calming and visual display apps can help with PTSD and anxiety. Meditation plays a big part in mental and physical health, and yes, there is an app for that. Many apps have tools to help diagnose, seek a professional, games to improve moods, questions to track emotions, and the ability to customize it to what you need.
Keeping It Personal
One of the benefits of these tools and apps is that they don’t involve reaching out to a professional. Guided steps empower a person to address their mental health without the discomfort that would stop someone from seeking a face-to-face consultation. In the past, an issue may never be addressed because of this. Because they are at ease with using a tool, patients may seek help earlier than if their first step was in-person.
The pandemic has created more dialogue around mental health and technology has given those seeking help the accessibility and ability to address it.