Digital Mental Health

I often think about society’s future mental health as a result of the pandemic. Ensuing from the trauma people experienced – death, illness, losing their jobs, lockdown isolation etc. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported four in ten adults in the U.S. revealed they had symptoms or anxiety or depression.

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In the future will there be enough affordable mental health professionals, therapists and psychiatrists to help us cope? The need for mental health services has open the window of opportunity for digital mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are approximately 10,000 apps in what has evolved to a multibillion-dollar industry.

How do most automated therapy apps work? They utilized AI algorithms to guide people through the therapy process via a series of behavioral questions similar to in-person therapy. Is digital therapy an affordable solution for the future for filling the void of qualified, skilled mental health experts? Stay tuned. Automated therapy is a relatively new, uncharted, disruptive industry. Will the apps help people truly understand themselves better or help them change long-held behavioral patterns? To me it will depend on the situation at hand personalized for each individual. Consequentially, I do not foresee AI algorithms covering all bases of mental health issues comparable to a trained, experienced analyst. Consequently, my reservation is AI algorithms utilized for the behavioral process digitally for therapy will be too general. A hypothetical example I read researching this post is detailed below:

Digital patient: “I am experiencing a relationship problem right now.”

App: “Tell me more”

Digital patient: “Blah, blah, blah.”                                                         t

App: “To build a better relationship are you prepared to accept 100% of the responsibility for the changing the relationship.”

Digital Patient: “Please explain. I do not fully understand.”

App: “Well for starters blah, blah, blah………….”

Sounds very general to me? Makes me wonder how any of the available apps would handle a more complex personal well-being issues related to the pandemic or one recently bought to light by a tennis prodigy. Anxiety resulting from professional ambition not just for professional athletes, but individuals in demanding work environments. As I stated earlier, automated therapy is still evolving and will take time for the scheme of algorithms to be developed in the future COVID World where one size (e.g., angst) does not fit all.

How do you feel about digital therapy?

2 thoughts on “Digital Mental Health

  1. Thank you for highlighting this important subject. In response to your first question–In the future will there be enough affordable mental health professionals, therapists and psychiatrists to help us cope?–the answer is NO!… there aren’t nearly enough now. And while AI options might be helpful for some people in some situations, they are not the answer for most with more serious issues.

    For a supposedly intelligent, enlightened population, we have a terrible track record when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. There is a resistance to acknowledging and dealing with them head on, leaving patients and their families to fend for themselves. Many self-medicate with addictive illicit drugs and alcohol only further exacerbating the problem, and we allow far too many people to live in the streets, to become victims of crime and poor health conditions and creating unsafe zones for all, all in the name of compassion. I don’t find anything compassionate in allowing human beings to live in the streets like animals. Civilized societies must now allow this to persist.

    We don’t help our children to develop critical thinking and evaluation skills; we don’t give them practical training (or give them good role models) for how to resolve conflict in a positive manner; and we indulge those who feel aggrieved by the mere expression of someone else’s opinion with which they do not agree. An app can’t make up for all that.


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