Mental Health and Technology: New Solutions Mark Innovations in Behavioral Healthcare
Some exciting new technological solutions are going to hopefully make it easy to diagnose and deliver care to individuals struggling with mental health issues. The innovations, which include a mental health kiosk and mobile phone apps will hopefully make it easier for patients to get the help that they need.
When many people think of mobile apps the first thing that might come to mind might be games like Angry Birds or social media apps like Facebook. However, some new mobile apps seem poised to help those suffering from behavioral health disorders like depression and anxiety.
Northwestern University’s school of medicine is working on a smartphone app called Mobilyze! that is designed to tell you if you are at risk for depression. The app constantly monitors your location and social interactions.
If you begin avoiding activities you enjoy like meeting up with friends on a Saturday, the app will bring this to your attention. People with depression often avoid positive activities. This app will hopefully inspire those with depression to engage in activities that they find pleasurable.
Harvard University is also developing an app that is designed to provide stress relief for people suffering with social anxiety. The app shows a neutral face and a hostile face. Users press a button to design a letter that appears on the screen. The effect is that users are distracted from the hostile face. The app has reportedly lowered anxiety levels for patients during initial testing.
The DOD has also released a mood tracker that can be used to monitor the mental health of service members. Monitoring emotional experiences associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and TBI.
On Feb 13, DSS Inc, which specializes in healthcare IT solutions, announced a new Mental Health (MH) Kiosk solution allowing behavioral health hospitals to expedite the note taking and interdisciplinary treatment needs of behavioral health hospitals. The Mental Health Kiosk was conceived as a complement to the existing DSS Mental Health Suite, which has been implemented in several Veteran’s Affairs and other large mental health care facilities.
The MH Kiosk will act as a private channel for patients to provide personal information before they see a doctor. Byers sees this as the next logical step in DSS’s efforts toward integrated healthcare.
The MH Kiosk was designed specifically to assist patients facing physical hardships, literacy limitations and cognitive disabilities. Bridging the gap between mental health and tech, the MH Kiosk offers the following features:
- Touch-screen guidance and audio capabilities, allowing patients to easily complete clinical data “paperwork”
- On-the-spot behavioral self-assessments
- Patient Education
- Administrative management of the kiosk that gives the controller the ability to select the most appropriate assessments for each patient
The electronic process automatically captures and transfers collected data to a patient’s digital record. The information is then available, in real time, to service providers. This will help health care professionals provide patients with more personalized discussions and exams.