The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2030 depression will be the biggest singular healthcare problem, costing $6 trillion worldwide.
Still, many aspects of mental health in the future look bright. We are moving away from stigmatising them to acknowledging them. Many of us now know that, like any organ, the brain can “fall sick” too.
The removal of stigma means that people are playing a more active part in their self care. Mental health is no longer considered as just an absence of mental illness, and is rather how to improve one’s psychological experience.
Gen Y and Z seem to be spearheading this change. And as a tech savvy generation, they are using technology as the next step to mental health care, harnessing machines to help manage their mental health.
Technology is already evolving mental health quicker than anyone would have thought. Cognitive and behavioural therapies can be diagnosed and resolved online in a safe and efficient manner, even including methods such as self care. Today, someone who may believe they have anxiety, can quickly and economically direct their own mental health at any time, even on their smartphones. This would be seen as fiction just a few years ago. Online programs like Black Dog’s myCompass, which has 30,000 active users, is the future.
Technology aids in not just diagnosing but studying
Technology is also completely changing how we study mental health.
At the Black Dog Institute, the Digital Dog research group is researching avant garde e-mental health technology in collaboration with some of the modern geniuses of the world.
Other researchers at Black Dog are working to learn how an individual’s social media history can be utilised to give them tailored mental health recommendations through machine learning models of mental health risk.
But not everything is problem-free
As with any and all paradigm changes, problems arise. Some professionals are worried that digital health spells will become a replacement for human clinicians.Yet rather than replacing them, technology will likely coexist with them, giving clinicians and consumers powerful tools to enhance well-being.
Another problem is ensuring the quality of care as we explore the link between clinical science and tech entrepreneurship. Users need to be especially savvy in a digital marketplace filled with apps that make tempting claims that seem too good to be true. A helpful guiding tool is to look for apps developed in collaboration with major universities or centres of research excellence.
Despite these problems, research suggests that man and robot will meet the future of mental health together. As mental health researchers explore how technology can improve mental health, fascinating questions continue to emerge such as how AI can assist in therapy and if AI can replicate a human mind, can we ensure its soundness of mental health? The real future of mental health likely involves taking care of more than just the human psyche.