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What are the applications of technological interventions in mental health?

Introduction
Youth Mental Health Interventions
Using digital interventions to monitor mental health in older adults
Technological intervention in a social work context
Dangers of technology-based interventions
References
Further reading


Mental health disorders are increasingly common in the general population. Mental health disorders are widely associated with improved life expectancy and end-of-life conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with more than 15% of people over 60 suffering from a form of mental disorder.

Technological devices such as cell phones, computers and the internet can provide digital interventions for various mental health issues, providing a regular point of contact with professionals, reminding patients to take medications and offering brain training exercises that help alleviate the symptoms of various mental health disorders.

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Digital interventions have shown great promise for many mental health disorders. However, the generational gap in the use of technology can leave vulnerable those who need mental health intervention the most, namely the elderly.

Some of the technological tools available to physicians to track symptom expression and behavioral changes, response to medications, and disease progression in mental health disorders will be discussed in this article, as well as those that can potentially be used directly as therapeutic agents.

Youth Mental Health Interventions

University students are at high risk for psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress due to academic and social pressures. Although most universities offer various forms of assistance to their students, the student may be required to seek additional help. Technological interventions can provide a passive outlet for people with mental disorders to seek help Going through a more discreet way than traditional therapies.

Younger people frequently choose online options when seeking health advice. Online counseling can be a great initial method of mental health triage, where more serious cases can be referred to more traditional mental health services.

There is a significant economic incentive for the widespread adoption of these mental health triage centers, which could improve the detection and treatment of mental disorders and streamline existing mental health services, freeing up outpatient clinics and referring patients to the places where they can receive the most appropriate assistance.

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Using digital interventions to monitor mental health in older adults

Although technology-enabled mental health interventions have been shown to promote adherence and patient notification, a significant subset of people with mental health conditions rarely engage in online activities and do not do not regularly use devices such as tablets or smartphones. For example, a survey of people over 65 in the United States showed that only 67% had internet access, falling to just 49% among those over 50 among 16 European Union countries.

The reason for the lack of adoption of new technologies among the elderly has to do with several factors: retirees are not required to adopt new devices in their work and therefore do not buy or use them regularly; learning new things becomes more difficult with age, perhaps intimidating those with only passing interest, and lower technological socialization among older generations inhibits adoption.

Even so, when adequate training and education is provided to older adults regarding the use of technology-based mental health interventions, programs have shown great success in promoting engagement, with, unsurprisingly , online-only endeavors for the education and mental health of older generations. intervention showing lower commitment. The benefits of digital health interventions for older adults could be enormous, avoiding travel and providing access to regular mental health care for people living in remote communities.

Apart from virtual counseling, simple technological assistance in the form of reminders and alarms could also be invaluable for older adults, promoting good medication and lifestyle management. Applications specifically designed for these tasks are additionally advantageous over analog lists or notes, as the technology can be used to record compliance. For example, the app could record a short video of the patient taking medication to remind them of the last time they took their prescriptions so doctors can be confident when changing the dosage.

Related: How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health?

Technological intervention in a social work context

Technology-enabled interventions are increasingly being adopted in social work settings, enabling improved patient outcomes and compliance monitoring. Many of the benefits already discussed can be applied to those who receive help from social services, in particular the possibility of improving communication at a distance.

However, technological interventions can also be applied to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. For example, cognitive training exercises delivered by computer or smartphone have shown great promise in mitigating cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease, with clinical evidence of improved blood flow to the brain.

Similarly, virtual reality and other interactive experiences have successfully treated depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other psychological conditions, which as a non-pharmaceutical intervention can be applied and supervised by social workers.

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Dangers of technology-based interventions

Around each of the discussed benefits of using technology-enabled mental health interventions, various potential risks and concerns arise, primarily in relation to data protection. Data must be stored or transmitted securely and without risk of interception. In addition to the direct risk of identity theft in the event of a data compromise, even the ongoing, passive collection of data considered non-identifying should be carefully monitored. For example, data considered confidential by users could be used by marketing companies to plan demographically targeted advertisements, or government organizations could use the data to write policies that isolate a subset of the population. .

Given that digital therapeutic interventions in mental health, such as virtual reality software or specialized video games, have been shown to be effective in alleviating various mental health disorders, it is conceivable that poorly designed examples could harm the good -being of a patient and ultimately producing a decline in sanity or otherwise blocking proper recovery.

Given this, these therapeutic options need to be thoroughly investigated in terms of both short-term and long-term efficacy, given the requirement for continuous and unfettered access to therapeutic software.

While online resources can be extremely helpful in providing help and advice to people with mental health issues, the potential unreliability of generic websites or social media platforms poses a life-threatening danger, where incorrect but well-meaning or intentionally malicious advice is treated equally. to an empirically proven and thorough science.

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References

  • Seifert, A., Reinwand, DA and Schlomann, A. (2019). Designing and using digital mental health interventions for older adults: being aware of digital inequality. Frontiers in psychiatry. do I: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00568 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00568/full
  • Borle, P., Boerner-Zobel, F., Voelter-Mahlknecht, S., Hasselhorn, HM and Ebener, M. (2021). The social and health implications of the digital intensification of work. Associations between exposure to information and communication technologies, health and work capacity in different socioeconomic strata. International Occupational and Environmental Health Archives. do I: 10.1007/s00420-020-01588-5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33084928/
  • Ramsey, AT, & Montgomery, K. (2014). Technology-based interventions in social work practice: a systematic review of mental health interventions. Social Work in Health Care. do I: 10.1080/00981389.2014.925531 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25321935/
  • Beishon, L., Evley, R., Panerai, RB, et al. (2019). Effects of brain training on cerebral blood flow (The Cognition and Flow Study—CogFlowS): protocol for a randomized controlled trial of the feasibility of cognitive training in dementia. BMJ open. do I: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027817 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31122994/

Further reading

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