Can technology finally help remove the stigma of mental health? – words Alexa Wang
We have all heard about the global state of our mental health. It’s mentioned quite frequently everywhere. In the press. By family and friends. Celebrities have been talking about it as well. Michael Phelps is a known advocate. The list is endless. While it’s commendable that people have finally made a real effort to talk about this problem, we haven’t seen any improvement in our situation.
Talking is a start, but it hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Fortunately though, there may finally be a real solution to the issue of mental health. And no, we’re not being overly dramatic.
Technology has been evolving rapidly for the better part of the past century. It has disrupted many different industries. Now it seems that technology (of all things) can finally help eliminate the stigma (and taboo) of mental health.
Can Technology Really Help or is This Another Over the Top Statement?
It’s important to realize that when it comes to mental health, every situation is unique. There is no “one size fits all.” One person can be dealing with depression while another can be dealing with frequent anxiety attacks. Even two people who both develop depressive disorders may be experiencing different levels of these disorders. As such, different therapy techniques are requires. In short, therapy is tailored to a specific individual. So when we look at technology, on the surface, it seems far-fetched that it can help. However, looking past the surface, we start to see a bigger picture.
Virtual Counseling: Helping Millions
Technology has now produced something called virtual therapy, also known as e-counseling or online counseling. The concept is simple: a technological platform that connects a person that needs therapy to a licensed mental health professional. There are currently several dozens of companies that offer this type of service, and it’s unfortunate that no one is talking more about these. E-counseling.com talks about it, however most of their content is about general mental health. However, we can’t fault anyone here because, honestly, there isn’t much information out there about this type of technology. There are several studies regarding this type of technology but they are in their early stages.
But, forget the studies for a moment. Let’s take a look at the statistics of some of the people who have already used this type of therapy. The reviews seem overwhelmingly positive. People, for the most part, have noted that they have seen a significant improvement in their mental health state by using an online counseling service. More importantly, this type of therapy has the ability to remove stigma and taboo. You can remain anonymous and confidential. There is no more need to drive up to your therapists office and fear that someone knowing you may see you. This shouldn’t be a problem in the first place, but unfortunately taboo still exists. That’s a separate discussion altogether.
Moreover, therapists seem to be moving over in droves in order to satisfy the needs of their clients. Most therapists have said that this is the future of counseling. IDC published a report, which was finalized by saying, “Clearly, e-therapy has both advantages and disadvantages, but we suggest that despite its limitations, the integration of technology into the therapy domain brings with it considerable benefits.”
Despite all of this, research has shown that people still prefer face to face therapy. This is because, according to the research, most people still don’t know that this type of counseling exists. The sample sizes were very “low.” Technology has helped people all over the world and it impacts almost every facet of your life. It’s a shame that we aren’t covering this more openly. We have a real opportunity to finally reduce the amount of mental health disorders we see. Let’s not squander this opportunity.