Technology – no matter how small and simple or big and intricate – is there to serve man. Machines, software, and infrastructure exist because humans saw a benefit to their creation and use.
Given the relationship humans have with technology, it’s no wonder we take every opportunity to utilize it to our advantage. While this has mostly come in the form of improved productivity and enhanced information awareness, technology can also be used to support and improve our mental health. We still have quite a long way to go, but technology is destined to shape the future of mental health.
Here’s a look into what technology can offer us:
Virtual therapy sessions
We don’t have to guess about this one being a part of the future of mental health. That’s because it’s already underway. Millions of people around the world are getting the help they need through online therapy sessions with licensed counselors. For instance, someone struggling with PTSD in Fresno could be talking it over with a therapist in Anaheim. Given ongoing trends in globalization and the rise in demand for digital services, many experts believe virtual sessions will soon become the prevailing way people see their therapist.
Reminders and warnings
Many of us wear so-called “smart watches” that help remind us to stand up, walk, and move our bodies. Some even suggest the wearer stop for a minute to participate in a short breathing technique. But what if these devices could alert us to more detailed data regarding our mental health? Imagine if biometric wearables could anticipate a panic attack and take action with a series of step-by-step instructions for calming down? Or perhaps our smartwatches could someday detect changes in our mood and document them like they do our steps and heart rates?
While data collection will always be unpopular, it plays a major role in our efforts to understand the human mind. As more data is collected about our habits, health, likes, and dislikes, the more we uncover about our species as a whole. In time, this will lead to major breakthroughs in mental health research and science. No longer will we rely on a handful of one-off studies to better understand ourselves. Instead, we’ll turn to the mountains of anonymous yet insightful data being formed every day thanks to digital technology.
The more mysteries we solve about mental health, the less stigma there will be about the topic. The unfortunate reality is that right now, those with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or some other mental disorder are constantly under pressure to hide their condition from as many people as possible. But if we can use technology to continue to understand the brain, the closer we will get to squashing the stigma.
The ultimate goal of harnessing technology for mental health is to use it for treatments, therapies, and possibly even cures as well. From interactive therapy software to brain implants, the range of possibilities is vast. Time will tell which ones become prevalent and which go the way of the lobotomy. But no matter what new forms of treatment become available, there’s little doubt that technology will play a key role.
Technology is the direct result of human wants and needs. With this in mind, it’s no surprise we look for ways to make ourselves better by harnessing the power of innovative technology. While to some this means cyborg soldiers and super athletes, chances are the most evident consequence will be the technology used to advance our understanding of mental health. After all, we can’t expect to do much with our bodies if we lack a healthy mind.