Over the years, there have been great strides towards the use of technology in supporting healthcare services. While this is known to be suitable for physical health intervention, there has also been a rising utility in the realm of mental health care.
Because of this, more businesses are leveraging technology to improve mental health care among clients. You can look at this now and read other similar resources to have an idea about how these medical trends came about.
What Is Digital Mental Health Care?
Digital mental health, commonly known as telemental health services, cyberpsychology, or e-mental health, is a wide and diverse concept that incorporates the use of technology to bridge gaps, create convenient systems, and bring aid to varying clients. It is an umbrella term aimed to monitor mental health, provide support, and treat an array of mental health conditions.
Apart from consuming content from physical books, the Internet now offers safe spaces for people to receive mental aid. These online services are great for clients with less intensive needs, experiencing mild stress, or who simply aren’t ready to reach out for professional aid.
Self-help mediums also aim to create a community where people can engage, share resources, feel empowered, and support each other to overcome mental health challenges.
For instance, young adults who are experiencing pressure in their career, financial struggles, burnout, existential crisis, and the like, may find these self-help platforms beneficial. They can connect with peers and talk about their experiences.
Additionally, you can access these platforms in the privacy of your own space and at your own schedule. Most of these self-help sources come for free too.
E-therapies also referred to as teletherapy, are online programs that use technology to convey interactive counseling sessions, professional interventions, and treatments to patients.
Depending on your scheduled virtual meet-ups, your therapist will evaluate your progress, give you feedback, and collaborate with you to refine the treatment plan. All these aim to deliver quality care and encourage you to complete the program and attain recovery.
Blended care incorporates both physical intervention and online counseling sessions. This is primarily done to complement traditional therapy services.
The combination of these tools, allows psychologists to monitor their clients and clients can directly contact their counselors. It’s an appealing and promising treatment program that aims to offer effective solutions and increased flexibility to clients.
Online Mental Health Resources
Today, people tend to perform a quick search to understand their situations and mental health-related conditions.
For instance, more people are consulting the Internet in looking for effective over-the-counter drugs to treat irregular sleep problems, stress, and anxiety-related conditions. This accumulated information helps them weigh the advantages and side effects of taking such medicine. Likewise, more adults are attempting to read more psychology-related articles to understand and deal with their mental health issues.
With this, the Internet continues to offer a wide array of articles, blogs, and other resources coming from reputable healthcare websites and companies. Consequently, as the numbers of online users continue to escalate; more organizations are joining the bandwagon to cater to client demands.
The Advantages of Digital Mental Health Care
These digital platforms and available resources have brought several benefits to therapists and clients alike. To show you, here are the pros of digital mental health care.
Convenience is a huge barrier to mental health aid. You may think that your schedule is too busy to make time for therapy or to see a psychologist.
Nonetheless, due to tech advancements, people across different levels and geographical regions can instantly access online mental health platforms and e-therapy. For example, the integration of synchronous and asynchronous communication in e-therapy has made improvements in facilitating both your and your therapist’s availability.
Synchronous video check-ins can temporarily replace traditional in-person therapy. This has become beneficial, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak when the number of depression cases tripled. This medium promotes physical distancing while at the same time, filling in your mental health needs.
On the other hand, asynchronous communication helps therapists offer a better match of availability and demand across geographical regions and time zones. Your therapist can remotely monitor your health status by allowing you to answer exercises and respond to message boards. This also helps your therapist assess the efficacy of the treatment program. On your therapist’s end, if it seems like the treatment plan is dragging you down, they can tweak parts of it to make it more suitable for you.
Moreover, asynchronous communication offers you time to reflect on your progress and compose a thoughtful reply. All these can minimize the chances for any transference and countertransference reactions, preserving competence and professionalism in managing online therapies.
With regards to self-help, the convenience of digital mental care platforms helps you understand your concerns, use self-management aid, and even connect with other users who are experiencing similar dilemmas.
The majority of traditional therapy and mental health services are expensive. Some people can’t afford it, resorting to online self-help sources and other free, reliable materials.
Since clinicians no longer have to rent office space and can perform counseling sessions in their homes, this minimizes overhead costs. Online psychotherapists, therefore, can offer you other mental health recovery alternatives that are within your range of budget.
For instance, with blended care options, you can reduce the entire therapy cost as it includes online counseling. This can also encourage you to attend scheduled therapy at home as you no longer have to spend money on gas or transportation.
Alternatively, e-therapy allows you to see and compare prices and their inclusions. This is beneficial, especially for clients who aren’t covered by health insurance.
However, state legislators have started to require insurance companies to include online counseling and psychotherapy in their therapy packages and coverage. This has made online therapy generally appealing and sustainable.
Reduction of Stigma
With the rise of e-therapy utility, more people are coming in the open and attending counseling sessions at home. Also, because of self-help platforms, people start to become comfortable talking to their community regarding their mental health struggles.
Software developers have intentionally designed these digital channels to be user-friendly. This encourages people to try them and makes it easy to gradually detach from the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses.
With a click, you can now schedule an appointment with your therapist or even consume reliable resources regarding your mental health condition. It encourages you to explore the available means around you and choose a digital platform that can help you experience mental health care. Potentially, this can help people minimize the fear and shame of having a mental disorder.
The Cons of Digital Mental Health Care
Amidst all the good news coming out about online mental health care, you still need to be on the lookout for the following disadvantages.
Well-researched information allows you to understand your symptoms and seek immediate professional intervention. However, with the availability of all these online resources, you can’t help but attempt to self-diagnose. This is especially true if your condition has started to complicate your life.
For instance, some digital medium offers free tests to help pinpoint your mental health problems. These might also recommend solutions that can reduce the appearance of your symptoms.
Self-diagnosis is dangerous. If you jump to conclusions, you might panic and purchase over-the-counter drugs that’ll only aggravate your condition. Likewise, taking certain drugs alone won’t correct or unearth your underlying problem.
Mental health conditions are complex. They aren’t similar to the regular flu that you can easily self-medicate for at home. You need to reach out to a mental health provider who can administer a series of tests to reveal your accurate condition. Also, take note that mental health conditions come in clusters—some tend to overlap with others.
Licensed therapists have to study extensively and go through rigorous training. However, any software engineer can make a mental health app (MHapp) and claim this to be credible and effective.
Mobile apps that are used to mitigate symptoms, diagnose mental health conditions, and provide treatment aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hence, it’s important to raise your concerns with your mental health provider rather than deal with your condition alone. You can also talk to your counselor and ask for their opinion regarding the use and efficacy of these mental health apps.
Because regulations aren’t yet in the clear, counselors who supplement counseling with these mental health apps have to consider their client’s safety. Also, software developers are advised to collaborate and employ mental health professionals in their teams.
Lack Of Proven Efficacy
Although e-therapy isn’t fairly new to the digital care industry, mental health apps and other online platforms lack extensive studies showing their efficacy in the entire treatment.
Apart from lacking in research, apps may create digital barriers to their users. For instance, some apps may not be user-friendly, causing difficulties for clients. This is true, especially if the users have less to no technical knowledge.
Moreover, e-therapy alone isn’t effective and appropriate for patients with complex mental conditions—schizophrenia, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), major depression, and other severe ones—and those who are suffering from comorbidities. They need to receive adequate treatment and intervention.
Digital mental health care has stepped up the delivery of mental health services. It has opened a new avenue to connect, monitor health status, recommend treatments, and accommodate clients, despite geographical limitations.
Nonetheless, you have to be careful in using these to avoid mishaps and worsen your current situation. It would be best to consult your healthcare provider to educate yourself further regarding the utility of these online platforms.