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Following my previous blog about my predictions for the healthcare sector in 2021, I wanted to build on those predictions with some more detailed content on each topic. 

One such prediction was an increase in Health Tech. I would like to go one step further and look beyond the applications that focus just on physical health but also look at the availability of mental health technology.  At a time when everyone’s mental health and wellbeing has been tested to its limit, I thought some insight into mental health technology would be welcomed.

There are far less mental health applications available on the market compared to applications that are focused on physical health, but it is essential to know there is online and application-based support out there.  Going back as far as 2015, which in tech terms is a long time, there were over 800 mental health applications on the market, and a large body of clinical research shows that web-based and phone applications can help treat depression and anxiety.  While smartphone apps may not always provide human interaction often linked to treatment in mental health circles, they may still prove useful to mental health professionals as they track our every movement. A study associated with Harvard University suggests that smartphones may be a great source of passive data on patients struggling with depression.  This data can be used to provide more effective treatment.

Mona Hayat, a mental health clinician and fellow is the CEO of Nexus Digital Technology, a behaviour modification platform that educates and empowers citizens to take control of their mental and physical wellbeing. She is concerned that there is not just a lack of mental health applications, but that consumers may not be fully informed regarding the support they are receiving:

“When we were undertaking our R&D of Mental Health applications to invite affiliates to join our platform, we were surprised at the lack of information available to those seeking online telemental health and education tools. Two things fundamentally need to change; more variance and transparency regarding costs so that we don’t endorse existing health inequalities and clarity of what the different models of therapeutic approaches are so consumers may make informed choices” 

Mobile phone applications can help with a wide range of mental health issues, not just depression and anxiety, addiction being another notable one.  Many applications on the market can offer a direct connection to a mental health professional, and also other applications offer daily meditations, alcohol consumption trackers and access to visualisation exercises.

Telehealth also offers many advantages for mental health treatment. This technology also helps reduce costs to the NHS and helps improve access for patients who can’t or won’t see a professional in person. Video calls can prove more beneficial than phone calls because it maintains that human connection more efficiently than just verbal communication. 

While mental health technology may lag behind some technological advancements in physical health, it is gaining momentum. Through this technology, thousands of people can benefit from better access to mental health care.

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