#6 Predictions for the Future of Mental Health Technology
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As the Founder and CEO of a mental healthcare technology company, people in India often reach out to me and ask, “Smith, I have no money. How can I get treatment?Sir,I’ve suffered for so long, but no help is around. Where should I go? Should I have hope for the future?” These are important questions that highlight a major, unsolved, problem, and by looking at certain trends in the technology industry today we can begin to answer them with practical solutions. There is hope for the future! Here’s why:
1. People will be able to get clinically effective mental health treatment for free or nearly free, as a result of big data collection:
Clinically effective mental health treatment software now has the capability of collecting massive amounts of anonymized, big data on patient behavior, which is extremely valuable to those looking to enhance mental health research. Software companies are thus incentivized to offer free or low-cost treatment solutions because they can get better data when more people use their technology. It’s a win for the patient looking to improve, a win for the software company looking to grow, and a win for the industry researchers looking to improve future patient care.
2. Virtual Reality (VR) will help make mental health therapy more productive:
Many licensed mental health clinicians in the United States are already creating VR environments particular to their patients’ treatment, and the results are promising. VR has improved mental health therapy, as clinicians can more easily implement custom treatment protocols into their practice. For example, patients with a fear of flying can simply practice conquering their fear by putting on a headset and riding in a virtual airplane, instead of traveling in a real plane- a time consuming, costly ordeal. Obviously, there are safety precautions that need to be implemented prior to using VR in mental health therapy, but nonetheless, it’s exciting!
3. Technology will empower licensed peer supporters to give more people access to mental health treatment:
To provide effective care, mental health clinicians today have to jump over many hurdles relating to the time it takes to treat each patient. However, with the combination of licensed peer supporters and technology, clinicians will be able to see more patients in less time because peer supporters will be able to help their patients in-between therapy sessions. For example, instead of an OCD specialist seeing forty patients a month, for four sessions each, the specialist may be able to see 80 patients a month for two sessions each, since their patients will be able to access 24/7 peer support technology on their own.
4. Social media will de-stigmatize mental illness in India:
Because smartphone adoption and social media usage is rapidly increasing in India, exponentially more information about mental illness will be disseminated in the near future, enabling people to naturally understand that it’s “okay to not be okay.” And, more people who’ve managed a mental health condition while being successful will come forward to share their stories. Mental health treatment technology companies are incentivized to spread awareness to reach more potential treatment users, which isn’t a bad thing, as the result will lead to people living healthier and knowing more.
5. Better medication will become available, as technology will enhance psychiatric R&D:
People will be able to get better medication with fewer side effects because pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, and academic institutions will be incentivized to do more research. The psychiatric pharmacology market is growing exponentially, and independent mental health data companies are quickly reducing the pharmaceutical industry’s R&D costs. So, in the future, this market will become more widely accessible in India.
6. Clinicians will prescribe mobile apps like medication:
Given the utility of smartphones, many people now spend the majority of their free time online. As a result, many mobile mental health treatment applications, are being developed to help patients receive effective care on-the-go. Initial research into the effectiveness of mobile applications in treating mental illness has been positive, and clinicians will soon rely on them more within their practice.
It’s our job as technology entrepreneurs to use our knowledge to solve meaningful problems. That’s why it’s our responsibility to revolutionize the mental health treatment system, as too many people are suffering in India and in other places around the world. We have the power to make our future much brighter, so let’s do something about it!