In the UK, staggering numbers of young people have been admitted to hospital because of mental health problems. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a 42 per cent increase in the number of young people admitted to hospital suffering from anxiety. While technology has been blamed for the increase in anxiety amongst young people, some are arguing that technology could also be the cure.
Encouraging young people to ditch their image sharing apps in favour of mindfulness apps could be the way forward for many parents and carers. Healthcare apps offer a low cost alternative to traditional therapies. They are convenient and readily available, and can offer a more attractive option for young people. Here are three ways that health care technology could transform the way we identify and treat mental health problems in young people…
Assist with Self Management
For those individuals who have already identified that there is a problem, healthcare technology offers a way to self-monitor their mental health and look for ways to improve it. Complementary devices and apps such as fitness trackers can also create a more interesting way to treat mental health problems. Many fitness trackers are also capable of tracking sleep, and this is an important factor in diagnosing mental health problems. When used responsibly, a simple app could help give a young person the help they need to overcome mental health problems on a native platform.
Gather Data for Research
One of the biggest problems healthcare providers face when dealing with mental health problems is a lack of information. Data is very valuable when it comes to making top level decisions about how problems should be handled. Self-management apps can help to identify warning signs of mental health problems. It has already been suggested that a person’s Facebook activity could shine a light on their mental health. The increased adoption of mental well-being apps could help to gather data and, as a result, focus attention and attract more funding to research mental health problems.
Managing an illness as a young person is incredibly difficult. Healthcare technology can help to take the grunt work out of managing an illness by offering reminders to take medication or keeping track of symptoms. This could be life-changing for children in turbulent circumstances and those who care for them. If you foster a child, for example, the added pressure of ensuring they stay on track with their treatment could mean the difference between a carer accepting a placement and turning them away. Health care technology can help to empower young people to manage their own condition and give parents and carers the reassurance that the child is on-track.
The benefits are clearly abundant, but healthcare technology is not without its flaws. One of the biggest problems the industry faces is a lack of peer review. Anyone can develop and app and market it as a mental health app, which is clearly something that needs addressing. As more local authorities and government bodies recognize the importance of healthcare technology, this will hopefully close the gap between existing treatments and the high tech counterparts.