The Role of Technology in Mental Health Support & Therapy

How can technology support your mental health? The role of technology in our daily lives is ever expanding, and exciting possibilities continue to unfold, especially when it comes to the field of mental health treatment. Tools are emerging to broaden access to mental healthcare for many who previously would have been excluded. Throughout this article, we will examine how technology has advanced mental health treatment and how you can use these tools on your own journey toward mental health and well-being.

At Immersion Recovery Center, an addiction and mental health treatment center in Delray Beach, FL, we understand how technology can foster mental health. Our program, which features innovative therapeutic tools and a three-pronged approach to mental health treatment,  features comprehensive and customized care to address each client’s unique needs. If you or someone you love is seeking mental health care, reach out to Immersion Recovery Center to learn more about the role of  technology in mental health treatment and to start your journey to improved mental health today.

 

Evolution of Technology in Mental Health Support

As technology continues to evolve, so do its applications within the world of mental health support. Through innovative communication methods, amassing multiple tools to aid your mental health has never been easier. Access to supportive loved ones, encouraging peers, and mental health professionals is now at your fingertips. 

Types of Technology Used in Mental Health Therapy

Technology’s role in mental health treatment continues to expand throughout multiple avenues of care. The National Institute of Mental Health outlines some of the most common capabilities of today’s mental health technology.(1)

  • Communication — Smartphones, laptops, wearables, and other forms of communication allow those receiving care to easily interact with their support systems.
  • Monitoring — Mental health professionals and supportive loved ones can monitor and analyze digital feedback from symptom-monitoring devices. This feedback allows for increased assessment of symptoms and recognition of emergencies. 
  • Assessment — Increased technology allows mental health professionals to utilize comprehensive assessment tools to gain greater insights and feedback regarding clients’ mental health status, symptoms, and progress.
  • Treatment — Tools including virtual reality (VR) experiences, telehealth/virtual services, and texts allow clients to experience a more immersive treatment experience.

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Benefits of Technology in Mental Health Support

Technology’s role in mental health treatment comes with an abundance of benefits to both clients and clinicians. These benefits include:

  • Ease of Access / Low Barrier to Entry — Technology can offer opportunities to clients who were previously unable to access quality healthcare due to time, geographic, and cost limitations. 
  • Anonymity — Patients can access mental health treatment from their own homes without revealing sensitive information. 
  • Consistency — Professional care and support is now available 24 hours a day.

Accessibility to Mental Health Resources

Access to mental health resources has never been easier. Through the use of technology, patients are no longer limited by location to determine their level of mental health treatment. Individuals can begin treatment quickly from almost anywhere via a simple internet connection.

Convenience & Flexibility in Therapy Sessions

Therapy is now available from the comfort of your home, office, or any private location. This convenience offers clients the flexibility to adjust treatment scheduling around their schedules. Mental health professionals are available day or night to ensure that clients have the supportive resources needed for success in their mental health journeys.

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Cost-Effectiveness and Affordability

Advances in technology have driven down the cost of some mental health treatment. Some clinicians no longer have to factor in resources—such as office space, commuting expenses, or separate utility bills—to their service fees. This allows therapists to charge less, potentially providing access and availability to those who have been previously excluded.

Digital Therapeutic Approaches

Many therapeutic approaches have evolved in tandem with their technological applications, and they seem to be equally as effective as in-person options. For example, the American Psychological Association asserts that digital therapy options tend to be just as effective in treating depressive symptoms as their in-person counterparts.(2) Though evidence-based practices remain the standard of treatment, delivery treatment mediums have shifted. Technological innovations allow clinicians to offer a more comprehensive level of care for their clients, including symptom monitoring, emergency crisis access, and connection with supportive peers.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Applications

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) remains one of the most frequently utilized counseling modalities for mental health treatment. This evidence-based form of talk therapy helps participants connect thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and develop coping skills to help in each domain. The CBT treatment model has been shown to have equal efficacy whether delivered in person or through a digital format. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy reveals that as many as 82% of online CBT patients feel that their level of mental health care is good or excellent.(3)  

Mindfulness & Meditation Apps

Mindfulness and meditation are foundational practices for many mental health regimens. These activities are utilized to restore a sense of calm, peace, and/or positive mood. Smartphone apps for guided meditation, journaling, and active breathing make these practices easier than ever to incorporate into a busy schedule. 

Virtual Reality (VR) Therapy

An innovation emerging in the world of mental health treatment is virtual reality (VR) therapy. Though VR is in its infancy, clinicians are hopeful that incorporating VR into a client’s treatment will help address symptoms associated with phobias, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Teletherapy & Online Counseling

Thanks to the pandemic, use of teletherapy and online counseling has increased dramatically in recent years.(2) Teletherapy allows clients the ability to meet digitally with a qualified mental health therapist from the comfort of their own homes or other locations. These meetings can take place through video sessions or over the phone, affording patients the convenience of mental health therapy without significant disruption to their daily schedules.  

Advantages & Challenges of Teletherapy

Though its ease of access and convenience are appealing advantages of telehealth, the medium carries its share of challenges. Some of these challenges include:

  • Privacy and security concerns
  • Possible tech malfunctions 
  • Regulations for therapists and treatment protocols
  • Safety and crisis response

When entering telehealth treatment, it’s important for clients to do their research and discuss concerns with the provider to ensure the highest quality of care.

Privacy & Security Considerations

Among telehealth’s challenges are privacy and security concerns. An important aspect of mental health treatment is the understanding of confidentiality between clients and clinicians. Telehealth poses a unique set of challenges in ensuring the protection of private information due to patients or therapists using locations and internet connections that potentially lack security. To mitigate this challenge, it’s important that clients use a private space and internet connection for all telehealth appointments.

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Technology is a growing resource for mental health treatment. At Immersion Recovery Center, an addiction and mental health treatment center in Delray Beach, FL, we understand the unique opportunities available through tech innovations. To learn more about not only the role of technology in mental health treatment but also what other cutting-edge treatments are available to you today, reach out to Immersion Recovery Center. Available 24/7 for a free and confidential conversation, our representatives can answer questions about the treatment process, discuss insurance and payment options, and help you plan your first step toward mental health and well-being today.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Technology and the Future of Mental Health Treatment. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/technology-and-the-future-of-mental-health-treatment.
  2. American Psychological Association. How Well is Telepsychology Working? Available from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/07/cover-telepsychology.
  3. Cuthbert K, Parsons EM, Smith L, Otto MW. Acceptability of telehealth CBT during the time of COVID-19: Evidence from patient treatment initiation and attendance records. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8739019

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Susan-Shirley

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Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.