The Future Of Mental Health Care

Thanks to advances in technology, changes in patient preferences and recent events impacting the feasibility of in-person appointments, the landscape of mental health care is changing. 

Technology And Mental Health Treatment

In recent years, technology in the field of mental health has evolved considerably. Patients and care providers are now able to use any device connected to the internet to access mental health care services, records, and supportive resources. 

Thousands of mental health apps are now available for mobile devices, and more apps are being developed all the time. Accessing an app or other online service to address mental health may not only change treatment, but improve it as well.

Benefits Of Virtual Mental Health Care

Virtual mental health services offer many benefits for patients and health care professionals, including:

  • Affordability — For many people, using an app or online resource is more cost-effective than visiting a provider in-person.
  • Privacy — Using virtual mental health services allows patients to get the care they need with privacy and anonymity.
  • 24-hour support — Many virtual mental health services are available at all hours of the day and night, which provides patients with continuous access to support.
  • Convenience — The use of virtual services allows patients to access the support they need from any location. For patients with limited resources and/or a long commute to the nearest clinic, online mental health care can be invaluable.
  • Availability — Virtual health care services allow patients to get help faster than would be possible if they had to wait for an in-person appointment.
  • Flexibility — In situations where other forms of care may be unavailable, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual mental health services are still accessible.
  • Collection of data — Technology can be used to collect important data about patients that mental health care professionals can use to provide better treatment.
  • Appeal — For some patients, especially those who have never taken advantage of mental health care services before, virtual care may be more appealing.
  • Support for in-person care — Technology can be used in combination with in-person mental health services to facilitate better patient outcomes.

Five Types Of Virtual Care

In the field of mental health care, several different types of virtual services are available. Here are five:

  1. Data Collection Apps

Data collection apps passively gather data about the user and transmit the data to researchers. 

Researchers can use this data for a range of purposes, from improving current treatments to gaining a better understanding of specific mental health trends.

  1. Tracking Of Symptoms

Developers are working on applications that can passively track mental health symptoms by keeping records of the user’s behavior, as well as the speed and tone of their voice. These applications may be able to provide an alert prior to the onset of a serious mental health crisis.

  1. Skill Building Apps

The purpose of skill building apps is to help users develop better problem-solving and/or coping skills.

  1. Virtual Support

Technology can be used to connect patients with another person, such as a peer or a healthcare provider, when support is needed.

  1. Self-management

Self-management apps are designed to help users manage their own mental health needs. For example, the user may use an app to track their progress toward certain goals, set up reminders to take medication, or deal with stress and anxiety. 

Apps are also available to track physical characteristics related to mental health, such as heart rate and sleeping patterns.

Getting The Most Out Of Virtual Mental Health Care

Not all virtual mental health care services are the same. For this reason, it’s important for patients and healthcare providers to research their options carefully before using any of these technologies. 

To evaluate a specific app, be sure to read reviews from third-party sources. Patients can also check into the validity and efficacy of a given app by talking to a trusted healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that virtual mental health care options are not always a substitute for in-person services. The best virtual mental health care options will provide clear instructions patients should follow in case of an emergency or worsening symptoms.

To learn more about virtual care at Vertava Health, connect with us today.