THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: TECHNOLOGY AND MENTAL HEALTH

Technology has made incredible leaps forward in recent years, and lately the mental health industry has begun to take advantage of available platforms to help those who struggle with mental health issues. With the rise of the smartphone, there are a variety of applications that can provide support for those living with mental illness.

TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW

With the development of computers, therapists have begun looking to augment traditional therapies with treatment methods that utilize new technology.

Some researchers have used virtual reality in an attempt to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by allowing a person to confront the traumatizing event in a safe, controlled environment.

Scientists have also tested a computer-based therapy called attention bias modification (ABM) for teens suffering from anxiety. This method consists of rapidly flashing images of angry and neutral faces. After each face disappears, a series of dots appears in the place where either the angry or neutral face appeared. The viewer then must press a button in response. ABM always shows the dots where the neutral face appears, attempting to adjust the bias away from anxiety toward the more neutral image.

Computer treatments aren’t the only techniques being tested. With smart phones, there is a whole new level of technology-based treatment geared toward promoting better mental health.

WHAT APPS ARE OUT THERE?

Fitness apps for smart phones have become very popular, and some enterprising companies are attempting to bring the same pocket-sized assistance to mental health treatment. Pacifica and Pala-linq are two such apps that show potential.

Pacifica focuses on reducing anxiety and stress through activities based on cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation and wellness techniques. This use of technology allows people to gain the benefits of these techniques while going about their regular routine. The exercises are easy to use and designed to provide therapeutic help in a compact form.

Pala-linq is another app that is currently being developed. It is designed to aid recovery by allowing you to track your mental, physical and emotional activity, engage with a tight-knit support structure and achieve goals. It is currently focused on alcohol and drug addiction, but as the technology continues to evolve, other conditions will be added.

T2, or the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, is connected to the Department of Defense, and their goal is to create technology to improve the mental health of veterans and their families. They have produced a number of mobile apps which can help with anything from breathing exercises to treatment for PTSD, depression or any number of other conditions.

TECHNOLOGY AND MENTAL HEALTH

Many people carry a cell phone in their pocket wherever they go. Maybe you’re reading this on your phone right now. Mobile applications like Pacifica, Pala-linq and the T2 apps can be accessed anywhere, anytime from the convenience of your phone.

With programmed exercises and activities, these apps can provide a sense of security for those suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues. Knowing that help is a push of a button away may be a useful asset for a successful recovery.

These apps may also help reduce the stigma of mental health issues by providing a simple approach to therapy that’s easy to access. Those who might not otherwise seek treatment may download an app just to try it out.

Advances in technology should be used to elevate treatment for mental health issuesby offering well-designed, solidly researched applications. With apps like Pacifica, Pala-linq and others, you may be able to find a path to recovery.