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Some experts in the healthcare industry have been reluctant to embrace innovations in tech and software, tending to associate mobile apps and online systems with rising screen times and reduced attention spans. But what if new tech presents the innovative solutions to improving our well-being and state of mind that we desperately need?

Mental health services in the UK recorded a record of 4.6 million referrals in 2022, demonstrating we are at an all-time high. Instead of accelerating problems in mental health, what if technology provided the remedies to issues we could only have dreamed of solving in the past?

Treatment through VR 

One of the emerging developments to combat mental health issues includes using VR headsets to desensitize patients suffering from complications caused by PTSD and anxiety. The NHS’ gameChange programme exemplifies how the VR world is actively helping patients to deal with their symptoms, introducing a mindful ‘exposure therapy’ programme that simulates the conditions in which symptoms occur.

The augmented reality world mimics users’ phobias, enabling them to develop efficient coping techniques within a safe and structured environment. Following the pandemic, investments in mental health tech start-ups continue to rise, reaching $5.5bn in 2021 alone.

It’s anticipated that solutions such as ongoing developments in VR and virtual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programs could potentially present an unassailable remedy to permanently combat mental health challenges.

Digital mental health interventions and appointments

Expedited by the growing shortage of healthcare professionals, digital healthcare services may provide a vital solution to the incessant demand placed on global health services. The British Medical Association recently concluded that the UK would need to take on a further 46,300 full-time doctors to match the EU average ratio of 3.7 doctors per 1,000 people.

From virtual appointments to online monitoring systems that check up on patients’ behaviours, innovations in software developments have facilitated healthcare providers’ successes in monitoring and treating mental health issues on an unprecedented scale.

The prominence of digital appointments has also drastically worked to satisfy the demands for patient anonymity – particularly beneficial for individuals who may feel uncomfortable talking in person or being seen in public.

The future of digital cures?

In the past, turning the tide on the battle against mental health seemed like an impossible task. However, the ongoing integration of innovative digital solutions to age-old problems proves the integral role that technology is playing in leading developments in healthcare around the globe.

Due to the prominence of smartphones, healthcare professionals can treat more individuals within the same amount of time that typical face-to-face appointments would be carried out while tailoring custom treatment methods to suit individual lifestyles and needs.

Patients are no longer burdened by lengthy waiting rooms or inconveniently timed in-person appointments. Offering convenient access to everyone, everywhere, it is clear that the integration of tech within healthcare systems is evolving into a viable solution to help overcome the challenges of mental health.

Oliver Bould

Oliver is studying History at the University of Sheffield. He joined Liberty for an internship placement in April 2023

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