Mental health is all about how people feel in different conditions. It’s about their emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health is a very important part of our lives at every stage of adolescence or old age, everyone can go through mental health issues, and it is the need of the hour to acknowledge such feelings and take preventive actions.
Technology and Mental Health
Technology has opened a new parameter for mental health issues. Devices like cell phones, smart watches, etc., have made people’s lives easier through in-built sensors that collect all the necessary information such as their stress rate, heart rate, overall mental well-being, and many more.
Thousands of mobile applications help users solve a crisis even before they arrive. It has become easier for doctors and researchers to gather information about people’s emotional status and take corrective actions beforehand. However, there is still uncertainty about such applications’ effectiveness, making users dicey about such apps.
What To Expect In The Future?
Technology will be groundbreaking in the future. With AI and the latest algorithms, lives would be easy. Here are some changes which we can expect in the future –
• Thinking Skills: Apps that help users to improve their thinking skills will be a thing in the future. Such apps might help keep track of emotional well-being, and they might also provide various meditating reliefs to their users.
• Symptom Tracing: Applications will be able to track the emotional state of a user on a real-time basis. Such apps will be able to recognize the behavioral change in a user’s state of mind that might be a signal for depression or mental illness. Though they may not replace a mental health professional, they will provide additional information to caregivers before an emotional breakdown of the client.
• Data Collection: The collection of data would become easy and done without the user’s help. Apps could categorize users with similar issues and help improve researchers’ understanding.
• Virtual Therapy: This technology would help users interact and share their problems with another human being, a professional, anywhere around the world at any time.
Researchers are still analyzing how much human interaction is required for effective app-based therapy.
• Self-Sufficient Apps: There would be the development of apps that would require a user to themselves upload information, set reminders, and check their stress levels, breathing patterns, blood pressure, or heart rates.
Engineers and Clinicians: A New Affiliation
Clinical Engineering involves the application of theories in the engineering field to upgrade the quality of healthcare services. Clinical Engineering methodologies and procedures mainly apply safe and economical technologies and governance of healthcare facilities.
New inventions in the mental health field would be successful only when there is sufficient participation by mental health professionals. The cognitive applications we discussed earlier would combine an engineer’s skills to make that app user-friendly and a professional’s skills to provide efficient treatment options.
Engineers are developing apps that help predict when users need emotional support or are on the verge of a breakdown. The implication of such applications in the future would involve checking up on someone’s mental well-being, help quit smoking, solving the problem of insomnia, and working on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Will Technology Help In Reducing Suicide Rates?
It is impractical to put an end to dangerous thoughts in someone’s brain. However, detecting such feelings early and taking preventive actions beforehand is possible.
Many researchers, engineers, technicians, etc., are working towards harnessing AI algorithms that will help in detecting signs of suicidal risk and alert human beings to take necessary actions.
Detecting suicidal thoughts using technology? Seems impossible?
But it’s not! Researchers at Worcester are working towards developing an AI program called EMU (Early Mental Health Uncovering) that helps in identifying suicide risks from an individual’s smartphone.
This app would have access to your phone calls and could detect subtle traits of depression in your voice. It would combine the audio source with other data and provide predictions if you have suicidal thoughts or are on the verge of depression.
Such alerts would be given to the client themselves or their caregivers. This would help them to seek professional help at an early stage. Though this technology is still a work in progress, if this technology is successful, then this application will be a part of your life.
Are These Applications Useful After A Suicide Attempt?
The scope of such applications is wide. Even if an individual attempts suicide, hope still exists to protect them. After a suicide attempt, such applications, with the doctor’s consent and caregivers, would provide a proper safety plan. Such plans facilitate decoding thoughts that trigger suicide.
What if AI Detects Your Thoughts Incorrectly?
There is a possibility that AI may misjudge someone’s thoughts.
It may identify someone as false positive, where someone is not at risk but is shown that they are. It may identify someone as a false negative, where someone is at risk of suicide but is not flagged at the right time.
This type of AI would be launched only when researchers are sure about it, and the risk of using it is reduced to a minimum. This kind of risk of false positives or negatives makes it difficult for users to use such technologies. This is the reason why this technology is still in work in progress.
Mental Health Medications
What Are Brain Injections?
Brain injections refer to a direct drug delivery method to the targeted area. This type of injection is not widely used currently, but it is expected to be used in the future.
Such a technique could treat Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord or brain injuries, or other neurological conditions.
This technique helps rapidly absorb medication directed to the main bloodstream. This helps in an early response due to medication. Development of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)is expected in the future. DBS is an electronic device that delivers electrical current directly to affected areas of your brain and cures many conditions.
DBS could improve your overall quality of life. It will be an easy replacement when medicines don’t work, or they lose their effectiveness quickly. Such technology is helpful for mental health disorders. It is also expected that DBS would be able to solve other conditions as well, such as Alzheimer’s disease, eating disorders, and cluster headaches.
However, researchers will need to develop and clinically test this technology for years. It would be a revolutionary change in mental health treatments if this worked.
Neurotransmitters are a part of the nervous system of the body. They are responsible for transmitting signals from nerve cells to target cells. A synapse is a point of contact from where information is passed from one neuron to the next neuron.
What does the future hold in the case of neurotransmitters and synapses? An artificial synapse will come into action, covering the gap between neurons. It is an interrelationship between chemistry and electricity.
Artificial neurotransmitters will inject neurotransmitters in an organized manner using an antenna.
Future Of Mental Health Diagnosis
As we learn about the functioning of our brains, we understand more about mental health illness. With advancements in technology, it becomes easy for doctors to find causes of mental illness and provide a personalized solution to every patient.
This makes diagnosis easier. It also helps those who cannot afford therapy access get the diagnosis and the necessary treatment.
In the future, psychiatry will become more individualized, and patients will be treated in the comfort of their homes. Virtual therapy is coming into action and also reaching rural areas. The metaverse will also have an important role in mental health diagnosis. Usage of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (AR) for diagnosis.
Real-life situations can be created in cyberspace. Patients taking virtual therapy can choose their avatars for the session. This will also solve the shortage of professionals in different parts of the world.
The possibilities of simulations are endless in the metaverse, resulting in solving various mental health disorders. Group therapy sessions would be possible in the metaverse.
Currently, it becomes difficult for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to understand what therapy is and what they are doing there. However, with VR, teaching them new coping mechanisms will become easier.
As more individuals are discussing their fights against mental health disorders, it is helping to break the stigma of getting help and making mental health diagnoses normal.
Social Media: Cause of Mental Health Disorder?
In today’s world, social media is the reason for mental health issues in most cases. Individuals, especially teenagers and young adults, start comparing themselves to the standard of beauty set by social media.
There is a corresponding link between social media and increased rates of depression. People feel compelled to post on social media due to ‘fear of missing out (FOMO).’ This makes them lose their confidence and lowers their esteem.
Depression forms the stage before unsafe thoughts. Along with this, there is still a taboo against seeing a therapist. A therapist is considered a waste of money, and talking about your feelings is against societal norms.
Will this thinking remain the same in the future? Will social media continue to increase mental issues? Or will people become more empathetic towards others? Answers to such questions can be very subjective. Humans are reluctant to change. Changing their thought process and making them more empathetic is a difficult task.
It is expected that social media will continue to cause mental health disorders even in the future. It can trigger loneliness among teens and make young adults vulnerable. However, studies have shown that Gen Z is more compassionate toward others. They are starting to stand against bullies and not letting social media standards affect them.
Need Of Psychiatrist In The Future
Psychiatry as a profession has its challenges. They are not considered mainstream medical practitioners. Psychiatrists are the best people to be consulted when undergoing a mental health issue. Hence the field of psychiatry is growing and is expected to increase further.
There are a lot of myths regarding psychiatry prevailing in society that are difficult to eradicate. Also, due to confidentiality issues, psychiatrists cannot show their success to the media.
The three brain specialties, i.e., psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery, will work together closely in the future. It will become more personalized, catering to the needs of the patients.
There would be early intervention and diagnosis for serious illness. There will be more psychiatric clinics established not only in the metro cities but also in the backward regions. The concept of seeking professional help will reach all the country’s provinces.
Most individuals face the issue of traveling far distances. This problem will be solved through virtual therapy. Professionals will have new techniques and procedures to help their clients. They are trying to understand the change in people’s thinking and find ways to create lasting values for patients.
The primary level will teach the importance of mental health and how to care for and talk about your feelings. There will be the availability of free medical packages for the poor.
We cannot expect that mental health issues will stop occurring in the future. We can expect that there will be earlier detection of such problems and preventive actions will be taken in a predetermined time.
The future of mental health will undergo drastic changes. Technology will change the process of mental health treatment. There will be availability and affordability of knowledge, awareness, and medication. Virtual Reality and metaverse would make diagnosis much more interesting!