Technology has made mental health care accessible and convenient. People, individuals and groups with mental illness can get help everywhere.
Mobile apps and online platforms allow users to choose anonymity, avoiding discrimination when publishing articles. He has helped address these mental health issues.
The World Health Organization (WHO) notes the benefits of mobile technology for people who do not have access to mental health resources, especially in developing countries.
Various apps, from the self-assessment of patients to virtual sessions with healthcare professionals, support those with access to mobile devices and have been used in various ways. Indeed, technology continues to introduce new concepts in mental health support and data collection.
Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones have developed innovative ways to connect researchers, doctors, and the public, enabling new ways to access help and track progress, implement and improve understanding of mental health.
Recently, various technologies have been introduced in African countries to manage mental health problems. Still, these technologies’ success rates are very low due to a lack of awareness of these applications.
Also, different sources and resources have contributed to the African continent’s technological development in infrastructure, policy, capacity building, etc. The African Union (AU) took the first step in 2001 when it adopted the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) at its meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. NEPAD’s e-Africa program aims to promote Africa as a globally competitive digital society.
Formerly known as the NEPAD E-Commission for Africa, it is responsible for information and communication technology (ICT) policy, strategy and project development at the continental level.
Africa’s 2020 technology penetration rate is 43.1%, compared to a global average of over 66%, which varies greatly by country. Adults under 30 own smartphones and spend more time online than those over 50.
In South Africa, for example, 75% of 18–29-year-olds said they use technology, compared to 31% of those over 50. The latest technological developments can allow us to do so much more.
Refine diagnosis and assign the right professionals
For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping doctors in developed countries detect mental illness earlier and make more accurate choices in treatment plans.
African mental health professionals can adapt and use insights from the data derived from AI if employed for more successful therapy sessions to help potential clients find if they are the best therapist or not and determine what type of therapy will work most effectively for an individual.
In addition, the development of AI research can refine patients’ diagnoses in different groups of conditions to help psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers personalise treatment.
Using AI technology, mental health professionals can sift through vast amounts of data to more accurately determine a patient’s complicated family history, behaviours, and response to previous treatments, to diagnose more accurately and make more informed decisions about treatment and selection.
Machine learning, a form of AI that uses algorithms to make decisions, is also being used to identify patterns of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans.
Track patient progress and coordinate treatment plans
Artificial intelligence (AI) combined with therapists can track a patient’s progress and track improvements. AI can help determine when to change treatment or when to change therapists or professionals. Progress uses algorithms to analyse conversations between therapists and clients, revealing how much time was spent in constructive therapy and general conversation during sessions.
This can increase understanding and improve treatments. AI transcripts could also open the door to learning the language successful therapists use.
Additionally, using AI in the mental health ecosystem provides an opportunity to improve the system while opening up opportunities for abuse and abuse.
The coordinated and holistic efforts of governments
Discussions, programs and projects in the field of mental health require good governance at the national level. They must be included in national health strategies and appropriate budget resources allocated. Governments must coordinate their efforts effectively.
While many African countries have mental health policies, for instance, South Africa, Ghana, Zambia, and Uganda, too many exist only on paper.
Resources should be available to treat mental disorders as part of broader universal health coverage in digital formats. In the mental health field, this is a solution to the problem of access to mental health care.
As researchers work to find solutions, more attention should be paid to how Africa can bridge the gap and access treatment through various technologies used in the past. Assistive technology will also help transition mental health care from hospital settings to the community or home care due to the lack of mental health centres. Technology makes it easy to access.
African populations should be sensitive to current treatment innovations. This includes initiatives such as the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe. It’s setting up benches where people can sit together and talk to each other or the therapist.
It is a project that aims to change how less severe mental disorders are treated in African communities, reducing the cost of treatment and the stigma around it.
New technologies can also be incorporated into simpler smartphone or tablet applications for the less educated. These apps may also use the device’s built-in sensors to collect information about normal behaviour. When an application detects a change in behaviours, it can signal that the user needs help before a crisis occurs.
However, there is a belief the history of African technology will be interesting. Technology has provided many benefits to African users, many of which are not limited to the developed nations’ experience but can be restructured according to context and the African people’s unique needs.
It is also clear that the use of AI for mental health services in Africa, which is already used in many industries, could be a game changer in providing personalised treatment plans and monitoring progress in a more efficient and effective manner.
It will not only help us better understand our needs, but it also will help us develop methods and educate therapists in many ways now and in the future.
Onah Caleb is a research assistant at Benue State University (Nigeria). He runs the blog KaylebsThought.