Can Digital Tools Offer Support for Mental Health?
Digital Health for Mental Wellness
Medisafe is launching a new blog series focusing on the role of digital health and its use to support better mental health and wellbeing to enhance patients’ lives. This is the second piece in the series.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, alternatives to traditional mental health treatment are even more in demand. Depending upon what you’re looking for, there are several digital tools on the market that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve your overall mental health and well-being. As we enter into the holiday season amidst a pandemic, with levels of anxiety and depression at an all-time high, there are new tools available to help patients manage stress and their mental well-being well into the New Year.
Telemedicine is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to get mental health treatment. Similar to in-person visits, more mental health professionals are now seeing patients through phone call or video chat. Many popular telemedicine platforms once designed for acute care have now added behavioral health visits to allow patients to see mental health counselors via video. And most insurance companies, including Medicare, also cover telemedicine services. The wide acceptance of telemedicine means access to trusted mental health care is as close as a smartphone, and just a call away.
Mindfulness and meditation apps
Mindfulness and meditation are widely recognized as beneficial practices for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation can create lasting changes in the brain, help you improve attention and control over your emotions, and increase body awareness and self-compassion. There are a variety of apps on the market offer different guided meditations to help you in a specific area, like stress and anxiety management, pain relief, and sleep.
Platforms like Headspace and Calm offer free sessions that address anxiety and tips on changing moods and taking control over your emotions. Meditation can be especially beneficial in times of panic attacks or feeling overwhelmed, with increased focus on breathing and body awareness. Meditation and mindfulness have been linked to lower stress levels, reduced blood pressure, and lower heart rates.
Digital therapeutics utilize digital solutions to change patient behavior and lifestyle, usually with the help of a smartphone and delivered through an app. Digital therapeutics have been successfully used to treat many chronic diseases like type II diabetes, obesity, and depression. Digital therapeutic solutions often have built-in messaging platforms similar to Facebook and WhatsApp making communication between patients and remote clinicians feel familiar and easy. With these tools, patients are not left alone for extended periods of time and the clinician can get a more comprehensive understanding of the patient’s health situation based on real time data.
Using a digital therapeutic solution for depression, therapists can monitor patients in real-time and get the patient’s daily mood and results instantly uploaded onto a clinician dashboard that is used for patient monitoring. The dashboard shows results in a clear and easy to understand manner. This ongoing data collection and communication allows clinicians to stay connected to their patients, helping to motivate them throughout treatment. The patient no longer has to wait for days or even weeks for the next visit to his/her clinician for a problem to be recognized and addressed. And mental wellbeing becomes more present in the daily life of patients, improving adherence and making it more personal.
Text therapy is a unique approach that offers some benefits over traditional therapy. It allows you to conduct therapy on your own terms and at your own pace. It is also typically more affordable than traditional therapy, with plans starting at as little as $40 per week. For those who may feel anxious about starting therapy, text therapy is an easy entry into seeking support without required face-to-face contact. Text therapy also provides a hard copy of the exchanges with the therapist for patients to refer back to, unlike traditional therapy.
A recent study found that almost half of people using text therapy reported an improvement in their mental health symptoms. The majority of people surveyed felt that it was affordable, convenient, and beneficial. Another study found that nearly 90% of users noticed improvements in their mental health and that text message therapy was about one-third of the cost of traditional therapy.
Digital tools support mental health treatment by providing new ways to deliver services. Technology has allowed many people to continue or start their treatment during the COVID-19 health crisis. Telemedicine and text message therapy are popular alternatives to traditional mental health treatment, while digital therapeutics and mindfulness and meditation apps can help to supplement therapy or medication to enhance overall mental health and well-being.
Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.