Home Mental Health & Well-Being How Technology Plays a Part in Diagnosing Mental Health Conditions

How Technology Plays a Part in Diagnosing Mental Health Conditions

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To some degree, every mental illness is considered invisible, as others cannot necessarily see our thoughts and emotions.

However, innovative technology is playing a key part in helping to make mental health more visible, as well as improving the process of identifying a condition, lowering the barrier to accessing support and helping to create more awareness.

Historically, identifying and diagnosing a mental health condition has relied on subjective means, such as questionnaires or forms. But, technology is becoming more widely used as an addition to what is already available rather than a replacement. It has made mental health assessments faster, more accurate and more objective. 

When it comes to treating mental health conditions, there are currently limited options, such as courses of medication or psychotherapy. However, medical technology advancements are helping to improve healthcare alternatives and treatment. 

Below, Justine Abson, senior marketing manager and mental health first aider at Radar Healthcare explains how technology is helping to diagnose different mental health conditions and providing innovative treatment.

Mental health apps

Since the first mental health app was developed in 2010, around 10,000 depression, anxiety, and wellness-related apps have been introduced.

Initially, self-help mental health apps were designed for mood disorders. Still, as technology has become more accepted for its contribution to managing medical conditions, several advancements in mental health apps have been made. 

Mental health apps aren’t designed to diagnose a condition or substitute care from a professional. Instead, they are a convenient way to get additional or continued support alongside professional help. They provide tools, support, activities and techniques to help manage various general or specific mental health conditions. 

Artificial intelligence

Another form of technology that is helping to improve how mental health conditions are diagnosed and treated is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI models can analyse factors such as voice, movement, behaviour and memory to provide insights into mental health and well-being.

AI is a useful tool in mental health services, as it can help identify and monitor mental health conditions by extracting a sample and evaluating various metrics within the sample. 

Certain traits and behaviours, such as voice patterns, eye gaze patterns, micro facial expressions and body movements, can be analysed through AI chatbots or activities. AI models or programs aim to be more engaging than a traditional questionnaire and may be allocated slightly differently depending on certain conditions or symptoms.

E-mental health services

E-mental health services can be found online and are widely accessible, and sometimes anonymous, through mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.

One of the benefits of e-mental health services is that they are accessible for individuals who prefer not to attend appointments in person but rather from the comfort of their own homes. 

They are available in various formats, such as social media groups, websites, apps, chat rooms, video-based counselling and online support groups. They can provide self-assessments, recommended resources, self-guided courses and creative tools.

Not everyone is suitable for e-mental health services, as those with more severe conditions should utilise them alongside other forms of professional support and treatment, such as in-person counselling.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology is important in enhancing mental health assessments and treatment and has become a clinical tool in mental health research and practice.

It provides a broad range of benefits and makes treatment more accessible for those with limited mobility or who have difficulty attending physical appointments or locations. 

VR can help patients re-engage with day-to-day activities by learning to manage symptoms in an immersive and interactive virtual simulation; a researcher or clinician fully controls that. 

Below, Justine continues to provide tips on how healthcare organisations can help support employees’ mental health.

Sign up to support services

A range of mental health support services and charities specialising in workplace mental health training and support, such as “Time to Change and Mind”.

Managers must have the correct skills for supporting their employees with their mental well-being, both in and out of the workplace, and be able to respond compassionately to individual needs.

What the HealthTech?” is a podcast from Radar Healthcare, a platform for health and social care professionals to discuss creating change, tackling challenges and impacting people’s lives. Many podcasts offer insight into mental health awareness and support services from industry leaders, organisations making a difference and Radar Healthcare’s team of experts to share ideas and learnings.

Raise awareness

  • Creating a safe and stigma-free workplace environment is important to help build employee respect and trust.
  • Develop a culture where open and honest communication is encouraged and ensure staff have regular well-being conversations with their managers. 
  • Supportive peer networks can encourage staff to share their views and connect with others who have similar experiences and helps combat loneliness.
  • Managers should also reinforce positive attitudes, shift mindsets, and model positive behaviours to promote a healthy organisational culture.

Introduce initiatives 

Initiatives are a good way to promote well-being and help prevent stress and create positive working environments. 

Positive workplace initiatives include flexible or agile working, mindfulness training, peer support groups, stress management training and advice.

Involve staff

Listen to employee feedback on what their most important needs are when it comes to mental health and well-being. 

Ensure you follow up on feedback and produce outcomes to show you have implemented suggestions where possible. 

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