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How Technology is Helping Mental Health

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“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".” C.S Lewis

In a society where many problems are being tackled, it’s unfortunate that mental health is for too many people the last great taboo. And with the recent lockdown, mental health isssues are on the rise significantly. Mental health problems are indiscriminate and, although certain ages are more susceptible, anyone regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity can be affected by mental health problems. In fact, according to Mind circa 20% of all people have suicidal thoughts at some point

Even if you don’t suffer with a mental health problem yourself there is an incredibly high chance you will know someone who is thus it can still impact your life. Many people have likely seen first-hand just how big of an effect mental health conditions can have on people. 

There is clearly going to be a counter argument about the negative impact technology can have on mental Health however for the purpose of this article I want to focus on the POSITIVE IMPACT that technology can play in helping people with mental health. Things are improving around the acknowledgment of mental health and technology is helping combat the effects of mental health conditions in a number of ways from mood apps to behavioural therapy technology. By exploring some of these hopefully we can raise awareness of them.  

Mental Health and Mood Apps

It seems like there is an app for everything nowadays and there is a huge range of apps designed to help with mental health issues. These come in many different forms some apps like CPT Coach (Cognitive Processing Therapy) and PTSD coach( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which are designed solely with PTSD in mind. 

While some take a more general approach and are designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety some popular names include apps like Mood MissionMind Shift and Worry Watch. Others are designed to help people keep track of their moods and are designed to help people be more positive and happy. 

While there is a great variety of different apps based around mental health problems they can only do so much can’t they? But while no one is claiming the mood and mental health apps available are a miracle cure or a revolutionary treatment they are something that can help many people who suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. 

Another great thing about these apps is that you can take them around with you so people who do suffer from mental health conditions will have instant access to something that can help them! Yes, they can only do so much but it does show how technology is making combatting the symptoms of mental health conditions easier. 

Cognitive-Based Therapy

Cognitive-based therapy (CBT) is designed around talking about your problems and worries with someone. With professional CBT you’ll learn to break down your worries, feelings, and problems and break them down into easier to manage issues. For many people who suffer from issues like anxiety just talking about your feelings and problems with someone can be a big help. 

CBT is an effective way to help treat and manage a number of mental health conditions like PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety and many more. But since CBT is all based around talking you might be wondering how technology can make it more effective? 

Thanks to technology accessing professional CBT is now much easier for people, instead of having to make an appointment with a counsellor or psychiatrist you can now access professional CBT online. TalkSpace is one of the most popular online resources for professional CBT treatments and they even have their own app you can use as well. 

Rather than waiting for an appointment and then having to make yourself go there, which can be very difficult for some people, you can get instant therapy from the comfort of your very own home instead. 

New Virtual Reality Treatments 

While virtual reality is still a very new technology in many respects it’s already been shown to be a very effective way to treat mental health conditions like PTSD. Virtual reality technology can be used in exposure therapy to help treat trauma in PTSD sufferers. 

This kind of treatment can help PTSD sufferers deal with potentially harmful triggers and stop problems like flashbacks. Becoming desensitised to harmful triggers is difficult to achieve but virtual reality could be a very effective tool for mental health professionals to use. 

Clinical trials have been completed using virtual reality and they have been shown to be effective. It will certainly be interesting to see how virtual reality is used in the future because it has a lot of potential when it comes to helping combat mental health conditions. 

One final point worth making is how technology like social media has made it easier for people to get support and help for mental illnesses. Sites like Facebook have made it easier for people to find local support groups and discussion forums. 

While mental health is still a challenge for society as a whole and for some still a taboo topic, I believe technology has made it easier for people to find and get help and support.