It’s safe to say that society is at its most stressful it has been this century. With the raging pandemic, political turmoil, economic instability and environmental calamities happening all around, its understandable that people are more stressed than ever before.
According to one survey conducted earlier this year, as many as 84 percent of Americans are dealing with the emotional side effects of prolonged stress.
However, prolonged stress isn’t the only problem Americans have to deal with in this pandemic. Expert sources claim that before the pandemic, as many as 1 in 5 Americans were dealing with one mental health issue. With the onset of the pandemic and the uncertainty it brings, this number could have gotten higher. Thankfully, science and technology have offered advances that could change the landscape of mental health care.
Here are some technological advances that can help people deal with mental health issues through this crisis.
Lockdowns and social distancing are both very valid forms of controlling the spread of disease. However, one grim reality of the situation is that both of them can seriously impact people’s ability to access their mental health care needs. People seeking to improve their diets need professional guidance going through their binge eating recovery plan. People living with depression or rage issues may need to see their psychiatrists or psychotherapists often, especially in stressful situations brought on by the pandemic.
Teleconferencing software like Skype and Zoom have been invaluable in providing people a platform where they can interact with their mental health care providers through sight and sound. Thanks to these programs, people can now attend their needed therapy session over the internet, allowing them to improve the mental well-being without risking their physical health.
Interactive Support Groups
Sometimes people need the support of others like them rather than the advice of a mental health professional. This support can be something like genuine advice on living with someone who has an abrasive personality to simply things like having people who can commiserate with you. Due to the same restrictions that could prevent people from going to physically see their mental health professionals, such gatherings have become difficult in person.
Cue the development of platforms such as Discord, Messenger and even Telegram. These messaging platforms are portable and easier to manage versions of website groups and blogs from the early 2000s. These apps allow people to connect with each other and form much-needed support groups. Through such technology, people can get the support, information and connection they need to help deal with their mental health issues.
Apps for Addiction Management
Many recovering addicts have routines and other cues they use to prevent themselves from relapsing. These routines can range from attending support group meetings every week to daily affirmations or even reminders to perform tasks like daily exercises. However, dealing with the stress of the pandemic as well as the attendant changes to scheduling and lifestyle it brings can understandably put a crimp on such routines. At the very least, it can make maintaining them difficult.
Thanks to a few developers, recovering addicts can now turn to smartphone apps and programs for help in managing their addictions. These apps can help them remember appointments with their psychiatrists, provide them information they may need to know and give them updates on possible treatments. Other apps act more like task managers, letting them check off items on their routine every day.
Some forms of therapy are focused on helping people confront their fears in a safe environment. At its most basic level, this could involve looking at pictures or talking about the things they feel fearful or anxious about. In more intense cases, a mental health professional could suggest exposure therapy, where a person is actually put in the same room and exposed to the source of their fears. However, this experience could be more than some people are willing to put up with.
A middle ground exists in using virtual reality or augmented reality software. These audiovisual devices simulate environments and situations that can immerse a person safely in the situation they need to confront. This can safer and easier than exposure therapy in many ways. For example, virtual reality simulators can replicate a crowded auditorium for those afraid of public speaking or simulate a snake for someone with ophidiophobia.
Mental health care is advancing as quickly as the rest of medical care. These technological advances can create a world where support and professional mental care are easily accessible for every one no matter where they are.