How Tech and Data Can Help Mental Health

It’s Mental Health Awareness month and Data is upping its game to support mental health. There are mindfulness apps, sleep aids, even Electronic Health Records (EHR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help bring ease to our minds and our bodies.

The last few years have been particularly gruelling. When you figure that around 40% of people don’t have access to help and the stigma surrounding mental issues, it’s good to discover there are options for those who need it developed within the technology sector. But like any technology which helps us run our businesses and our lives more efficiently, it comes down to accessibility and Data. The more you know, the better you can target mental health issues, patterns, and craft treatments.

AI Accessible Mental Health Technology

What if you could talk to someone without fear of judgement in a cost-effective option? Healthcare overall in the US may keep many from seeking treatment. But the development of AI tools such as chatbots offer both low-cost alternatives, confidentiality, allows information to be collected to shorten the time between diagnosis and treatment. Think Calm, Headspace, and similar mindfulness apps. Imagine if the years previously required could take just months, weeks, or days to having a better sense of wellbeing.

While AI won’t replace human therapists nor should it, the stigma is reduced, and information is received to help patients understand their condition, and to know when they need to speak to a human therapist. In addition, the chatbot and similar tools can give patients access to help between appointments as well. But chatbots and AI tools aren’t the only technologies helping people work toward positive mental health. The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been in play, and its apps have seen an increase in user downloads.

How IoT Helps Manage Mental Health

Exercise and sleep are two of the ways often suggested to benefit your mental health. Why? Because they’re stress relievers. But with all the distractions of today, the hybrid working flexibility, the greater competition to do more, and the day-to-day of keeping ahead of physical health, stressors are stacked high.

Fitness apps aren’t new, but in 2020, downloads spiked over forty-five percent worldwide. Health awareness apps complemented with regular exercise combined to alleviate loneliness and improve mental health.

Sleep disorders affect up to 70 million people in the U.S. The effects of ineffective or compromised sleep patterns affect every part of your health including emotional, physical, and mental health. But there are apps, tools, and wearable technologies from something as innocuous as a pillow or lightbulb to more advanced devices that monitor your nervous system. Check out this guide on the best sleep gadgets of 2022.

Mental Health and Company Culture

Businesses can do their part to make mental health a priority in their company culture. In every industry, including the tech industry, the constant state of flux and increased workloads, are driving the need to re-evaluate not only the physical health of your employees, but their mental health as well.

How? Empathy and trust are a good place to start, and with a safe space to share concerns. It’s important to not just give lip service to supporting the mental wellbeing of employees, but to actively support it.Imagine, if in those safe spaces, your employees had access to chatbots, surveys, or other apps which could offer help two-fold. Data can be collected which can give employers the information they may need to put systems in place to ensure the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of their employees which could lead to increased productivity and retention.

Everyone has been affected, in one way or another, by mental health issues or illnesses. But as Data Science ramps up its efforts utilizing AI-powered tools, Machine Learning, and perhaps even Computer Vision or Virtual and Augmented Reality to drive the conversation, then there’s no better time than now to start your journey.


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