Recent technological advances have opened up new horizons for the use of technology in mental health, especially in areas that involve monitoring, supporting, and collecting patient data. With modern mobile devices now available on the market, these new technologies set new industry standards.
With this new innovation wave, users can now seek mental health care directly from their devices. Along with apps aimed at people currently receiving or seeking mental health treatment, there is also a wide range of apps dedicated to improving concentration and meditation, which also fall into the mental health category and are available for users to download.
But before we look at some of the more prominent apps currently available, let's discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using mental health technology.
Advantages of Mental Health Apps
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, the adoption of mobile assistance to meet users' mental health needs has the following benefits:
Mental Healthcare Apps help democratize access to mental health care: Along with providing inexpensive and convenient services, the technology and general implementation of mobile care solutions help democratize access to mental health care, thus providing patients in remote areas with direct assistance.
Apps provide anonymity for users: patients can benefit from a level of anonymity that face-to-face meetings do not allow. This sense of anonymity can help their recovery process, allowing them to communicate better with their assigned therapist or specialized professional.
Technology can be an introduction to mental health care, especially for patients who are reluctant to begin the mental health healing process or want to try their hand at it; connecting technology and mental health can be an ideal first step.
Mobile treatment can complement traditional therapy: in cases where a patient is already undergoing conventional treatments, mobile health can serve as an extension of their face-to-face consultation, as it can reinforce the knowledge, skills, and support and monitoring they have learned.
Technology is available 24/7: In addition to constantly collecting patient data, mobile care technology is a valuable tool to provide 24/7 monitoring or intervention support.
Technology can encourage patients to continue treatment: implementing mental health technology may be more appealing than other traditional treatments, which may enable patients to continue treatment.
Disadvantages of mental health apps
Despite its many advantages, mental health apps are a relatively new phenomenon compared to traditional treatments currently available.
One of the main problems with these new technological advances is getting the scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.
Mobile solutions are not suitable for all patients: Another major problem is that these new online treatments are not ideal for all patients and mental health conditions, especially those dealing with serious mental illnesses. Moreover, online therapists may not fully engage with their patients because they cannot see body language or voice cues during online consultations.
Patients are concerned about privacy, guidance, and regulation. Because these apps handle very sensitive and personal information, their creators must be able to guarantee the privacy of their users, as well as follow certain rules to protect their data. This is especially important because the industry has no generally accepted standards or regulations that can help consumers understand whether an app follows basic principles and standards correctly.
Professionals may not have created these apps: while they are valuable tools to help many users, the creators of these apps may not have involved mental health professionals or specialized therapists in their development, which can be detrimental to users.
Having assessed the potential advantages and disadvantages, let's now look at some of the companies that have forged ahead and their digital technology for the mental health field.
Meditation and calming applications to improve mental health
Although meditation is slowly gaining momentum, its popularity is growing rapidly in the U.S. as practitioners enjoy the following benefits:
Thanks to investor support, the meditation and mental health startup space are quickly becoming a billion-dollar sector. Along with this, excitement about the vast range of possibilities has led to a surge in app development.
If you're new to meditation and want to try it, Headspace offers a free trial of its "Fundamentals" course, designed to teach you "the basics of meditation and mindfulness." If you're hooked, you can sign up for their service and get daily meditations and mindfulness exercises designed for different purposes. Their various science-based meditation plans will help you develop life-changing habits to support your mental health and lead a healthier lifestyle.
With more than 60 million downloads, Calm promises to be "the world's happiest app," providing its users with audio recordings for sleep, meditation, and relaxation. The app offers guided meditations of varying lengths, sleep stories told by celebrities to help you doze off, and countless audio recordings to uplift and relax. They also provide video lessons on various topics such as mindful movement, stretching, and audio programs led by world-renowned mindfulness and wellness experts.
Telemedicine services for online therapy
The flexibility of telemedicine therapy overcomes two significant obstacles in the way people seek therapy services: access and stigma. Tele therapy includes video conferencing, telephone sessions, and assistance from psychiatrists or mental health counselors via text message.
Coronavirus has brought these apps into the mainstream, and they are not about to go away. Given that this new technological frontier involves a great deal of uncertainty about regulating the mental health technology industry and the effectiveness of apps, we will briefly focus on some of the leading players in this field.
With the support of celebrities like Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato, Talkspace fights the stigma of mental health issues and aims to bring online therapy into mainstream culture. Talkspace offers 24/7 access to psychiatry, couples therapy, and teen therapy through video, messaging, and phone sessions.
Don't feel connected to your therapist? Talkspace makes it easy to switch to another licensed therapist in your network. Talkspace is committed to flexibility on every level, from helping patients choose the right plan for their needs to match them with the right therapist to giving them consistent and convenient access to mental health solutions through the Talkspace app. Talkspace also offers plans for businesses, health care providers, and schools.
Software and digital medical devices used to prevent, manage, or treat disease are considered digital therapeutics. Through the use of mobile devices, apps, sensors, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and other tools, digital therapies can have a positive impact and induce behavioral changes in patients.
The Brain.fm team worked with scientists and musicians to develop music to stimulate brain activity that focuses on specific user goals.
This science-based approach to music creation will help you discover new music that sounds different and therefore has a more positive impact on your brain than any other music available on the market. Applying artificial intelligence to data has helped scientists and musicians work together to develop music aimed at targeting brain stimulation. Using this technology, they have created unique music compositions that guide users into the mental state they want.
Whether you need to focus, become more creative, achieve the perfect meditative state, or clear your mind for a good night's sleep, Brain.fm offers music that will support you and help improve your overall well-being.
Pear Therapeutics, a pioneer in digital prescription therapy (PDTs), delivers clinically proven software therapy tools that provide better patient care and more innovative tools for clinicians. Their catalog consists of a line of software products and product candidates in therapeutic areas such as outpatient substance abuse treatment, chronic insomnia, and various tools to help with severe psychiatric and neurological conditions.
PDTs use disease management software and are subject to testing and clinical trials similar to those required for prescription drugs.
Stress plays an essential role in mental and behavioral health, leading to conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, and more. Created by Apollo Neuroscience, the Apollo device is a Bluetooth-connected wearable device that promises to help users overcome stress more easily through science-based vibrations. Although the device does not track your vital signs, the stress reduction resulting from using the Apollo device will likely improve them.
Low-frequency sound waves, which can be felt but not heard, increase heart rate variability (HRV). The time required for the body to recover from stress is shortened if HRV is elevated. Therefore, maintaining a high HRV level through the vibrations of the Apollo device helps users stay focused on their work, get better sleep, increase productivity, and reduce anxiety.
The Apollo mobile app has seven different modes, from "Energy and Vigor" to "Relaxation and Rest. Each way provides real-time vibration tailored to the user's needs. Worn on the wrist or ankle, Apollo is designed to provide support for everyday life.