January 7, 2021
How Technology Can Support Patient Mental Health
1 in 5 American adults has diagnosable mental health conditions in any given year. Read on to discover how technology is helping to support mental illness sufferers.
Mental health issues affect billions of people around the globe. According to the World Health Organization, around 264 million people globally grapple with depression—one of the leading causes of disability—every day. While the development of drugs to treat such mental health conditions has been slow, our understanding of mental health has evolved—and continues to do so.
Multiple studies have shown the link between physical health and mental health: if physical health is poor, mental health can be affected—and vice versa.
While there haven’t been many breakthroughs in recent times, our understanding of how holistic therapy and technological innovations can help mental health has grown.
Innovations like telehealth, telemedicine, and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) have also made it easier for patients to connect with therapists, get diagnoses and support faster, follow treatments, and track moods and progress. Read on to discover how technology is playing a big role in supporting mental health.
Healthcare Solutions That Fit In with Patients’ Busy Lives
Finding time to visit the doctor is time-consuming and potentially expensive: there’s travel to factor in, plus time off work, and childcare to think of; making appointments stressful, and potentially exacerbating patients’ existing mental health conditions.
With digital healthcare solutions, patients can access a specialist from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, they have greater access to a wider range of physicians, combining the knowledge and experience of multiple experts, thereby improving the breadth and accuracy of their diagnosis and treatment.
The Unique Challenges of Dealing with Mental Health Issues for Healthcare Providers
Mental health issues, unlike physical illnesses, are often invisible, with no discernable external symptoms. This makes them difficult to diagnose—something that’s compounded by the fact that our understanding of certain conditions is still in its infancy.
This creates a disparity between the extensiveness of physical vs. mental health treatments, especially for those living in rural areas or with low incomes. This leads to many people missing out on the care they need.
Although the healthcare industry has developed novel ways of treating mental illness with technologies, these haven’t been adopted by all populations equally, which has led to a widening gap between those who are treated and those who aren’t.
Here again, advances in digital healthcare have proven invaluable. Those living in rural areas no longer have to travel prohibitive distances to have access to specialists, while patients who can’t afford to take time off work or pay for travel or childcare can save money while still accessing the care they need.
How Digital Healthcare Supports Patient Wellbeing
Regular care, coaching, better diagnoses, and compliance monitoring—telehealth brings with it many benefits, all of which help patient wellbeing.
Regular patient contact can be especially helpful for mental health patients, and for caring for the mental health of chronic illness sufferers.
Providers can easily find accurate information to inform their conversations and provide patients with better, more personalized care. This helps them feel more cared for, which in turn, nurtures feelings of positivity that can help mental illness sufferers, both physically and mentally. The power of positivity should not be overlooked, with one 2019 study revealing that people with a positive outlook have the best odds of living to 85 or beyond.
“There is research which indicates that optimism can actually be enhanced or nurtured through certain kinds of training,” neuroscientist Richard Davidson tells CNN. “When these kinds of mental exercises are taught to people, it actually changes the function and the structure of their brain in ways that we think support these kinds of positive qualities. And that may be key in producing the downstream impact on the body.”
Promoting Healthier Lifestyles, Proactively
Often, we only visit a clinic when something’s obviously wrong. With telehealth, care can be ongoing and holistic. With increased access to patients and their health data, practitioners can coach and guide patients to a healthier way of living.
Digital care makes it easier for patients to receive regular guidance, including coaching on diet and exercise—something that’s been shown to have a direct impact on mental health. This is especially helpful for chronic illness sufferers, who are more at risk of suffering from depression due to frustration, the strain of illness on their physical health, and the burden they believe they’re inflicting on family and friends.
Negative self-talk is also common among chronic illness sufferers, and regular cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be a huge help in helping patients stop repetitive, negative thoughts that could lead to depression. Engaging with a Care Navigator weekly engagement can help improve this situation.
Meanwhile, loneliness and isolation can make mental health conditions worse. Simply having regular access to a practitioner and building a relationship with them can go a long way to helping ease fears and feelings of isolation. This is especially important for the chronically ill, many of whom struggle to leave their homes or are simply unable to.
Telehealth is Transforming Mental Health Support
Telehealth is transforming the way practitioners look after their patients’ mental health by making it more accessible and more holistic. Following practitioner recommendations and committing to regular exercises and a healthy diet can often lead to an overall improvement in mental health—as can the feelings of wellbeing that come from having regular professional guidance and support.
Whether the patient is suffering from a chronic illness or managing a mental health condition, it’s important they maintain positive habits and establish relationships with medical experts who are providing care. Being able to talk openly, ask questions, and voice concerns can go a long way to helping patients feel empowered, positive, confident, and settled.
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell offers digital health services designed to help doctors and practices provide better care for their patients. Our solutions can help patients with chronic conditions and are additive to those who may have some mental health issues. We do this through our Chronic Care Management, and Remote Patient Monitoring services that make it easier for doctors to support patients’ mental health through regular and accessible care.
If you’d like to find out more about setting up a CCM plan, speak to one of our experts today.
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