How technology improves access to behavioral healthcare

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, there is another epidemic that has silently ravaged America and Americans since forever. We are talking about the mental illness epidemic of the United States of America.

It is estimated by a report published by Mental Health America, that 46 million Americans have a mental health condition. That makes up for roughly 18 percent of the country’s population. Many individuals have complained of lacking access to health care, with one in five adults reporting no assistance from a behavioral health care professional.

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Moreover, 8 % of America’s youth have no access to mental health care with 56 percent of Americas adults receiving no treatment or care for their mental health issues.

The scenario seems nightmarish. However, the real problem isn’t that providers aren’t willing to assist people with mental health issues. It is just that there are very few providers as compared to an ever-increasing amount of mental health patients.

It was reported that there are approximately 1260 mental health patients per 1 mental health practitioner. So for proper care to reach each and everyone, we need to pour in more resources into the mental healthcare system.

One way to solve this issue of inadequacy is by employing a digital solution to solve our problems. It might not help thoroughly but can help alleviate some much-needed pressure and make healthcare more accessible to everyone.

Currently, there are two major digital solutions that come to mind when contemplating the expansion of mental health care.

  1. Telehealth
  2. VR Technology
  1. Telehealth:
    Telehealth helps providers expand their reach and help people they weren’t able to help due to many inconveniences. Teleconferencing allows patients and providers to meet each other from the comfort of their respective abodes. Appointments can be scheduled easily and providers can consult and tend to their patients even in the most rural of areas. There are no long wait times, or long distance travel. Currently about 30 states allow Medicaid coverage to telehealth care.
  2. Virtual reality and Mobile technology:
    Mobile apps and virtual reality technology are all being used to deliver robust mental health care services to everyone who is in need of it. Researchers at the university of Rochester developed a prototype VR app that allows patients to participate in virtual psychotherapy sessions whenever they feel convenient. There are also built-in algorithms being installed in apps that create customized patient content on the basis of the client’s preference. Currently, thousands of apps were found on both iTunes and Android stores, claiming to facilitate mental health services.

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The Bottom Line:

Mental health care requires a human presence to be rendered effectively, and technology is not an alternative to replace that principal. However, with many people still deprived of access to basic mental health care services, technology can ensure that the pressure from the mental health care system is lifted a little bit.
One needs to be extra careful when using apps from online stores for mental health care. Most apps are fraudulent and do not possess the necessary regulatory requirements. Choose only those apps that are popular and reputed.

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