How Technology Is Transforming Mental Health Treatment

The technological advances that have improved the delivery of healthcare services for physical illnesses have also unlocked new possibilities for mental health treatment.

Web and mobile-based technologies offer patients a way to track their symptoms and reach out for support while providing clinicians with more avenues for intervention.

In this highly stressful time, technology can help fill the gap when doctor’s visits aren’t possible, complement traditional therapy methods, and serve as a useful introduction to individuals that are reluctant to seek treatment. Here are some of the ways technology is transforming mental health treatment.  

Telehealth

Telehealth or telemedicine allows an individual to consult with his/her doctor through phone or video call. The technology is proving to be especially relevant in this pandemic when shelter-at-home orders keep us from physically visiting the doctor. 

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Online counseling expands access by offering a solution to residents in remote areas and people that might be uncomfortable during one-on-one sessions. It can also reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health conditions.

To complement telemedicine, you can instantly connect with a trained counselor through 24/7 crisis centers. 

Internet-Based Support Groups

Various social media groups and online forums offer a safe, non-judgmental space for people to share their struggles. Under the cloak of anonymity, individuals can freely air their thoughts and engage with other participants for re-affirmation.

They can also access a list of educational materials to guide them in processing their negative emotions. 

Virtual Reality Technology

This relatively new technology offers a way to treat patients who have post-traumatic stress disorder. This treatment involves repeatedly exposing the patient to the traumatic event in a controlled environment until the event no longer triggers stress and anxiety.

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VR technology is useful in treating military veterans who have PTSD. Still, there’s considerable potential to use this technology to complement the treatments of people with phobias, depression, and anxiety.  

Mobile Apps

Mental health apps appear to be the new frontier of mobile healthcare, with various apps attempting to address a wide range of psychological concerns. 

Convenience, anonymity, improved coverage, reduced cost, and consistency are some of the benefits of mental health apps. Some of the popular categories include: 

  • Self-Management 

These apps help users manage their mental health daily, either by setting medication reminders or completing activities designed to relieve stress or anxiety. 

Some self-management apps work in tandem with wearable equipment to collect physiological information like your heart rate or blood pressure, giving your medical provider a better understanding of your progress or alerting them for any warning signs.   

  • Skills Training Apps

Through a different learning experience or delivering therapies using interactive formats, users can gain and enhance healthy coping skills. 

For example, there’s an app designed for anxiety that requires you to create a list of the activities that bring you the most worry and guides you through a step-by-step process to conquer these fears using cognitive-based therapy strategies.  

  • Illness Management

These kinds of apps usually embed some form of self-management, but go further to connect you to a peer counselor or healthcare provider for further assistance.   

Look for mental health apps that offer professional service as well. This type of therapy has earned a growing interest because of its convenience and accessibility. What used to be only available in the hospital and therapy centers is now easily accessed from the comfort of your home with the internet and your internet-capable gadget. 

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Since these apps deal with highly personal and sensitive information, make sure to carefully evaluate the apps to know which are trustworthy. Although data can enhance an algorithm’s predictive power, it tends to operate in gray areas that straddle the lines between surveillance and privacy.

Go the extra mile and look up information about the app developer. What are their credentials? How about the terms and conditions? Read the fine print. If you can’t find any information about the app or the developer, search for the treatment upon which the app is based.

To make an informed choice about which mental app is right for you, seek your healthcare provider’s advice. Since they have your medical records, they are in the best place to evaluate which apps can support your ongoing therapies. Ask what apps would they recommend – a passive symptom tracker or one that has more of a human touch? 

Final Thoughts

Even before the pandemic, the US was already grappling with a growing mental health crisis. Preliminary studies suggest that the situation will only worsen as depression and anxiety symptoms appear to have notably increased for the general population. 

If lessons from the previous Ebola and SARS epidemics are any guide, the psychological toll will last long after the outbreak has ended, straining a healthcare system that’s already showing signs of stress.

Faced with these daunting tasks, there is a need to scale up technology-based tools and solutions to reach vulnerable and underserved segments of the population. 

Although apps and internet support groups cannot replace a licensed professional, they can provide much-needed support at this crucial time when we need to create and maintain meaningful connections, build healthy coping habits, and manage stressful experiences while keeping apart. 

Now more than ever, it is imperative to make full use of the digital tools at our disposal to support each other during and after this crisis.

 

How Family Doctors Are Supporting COVID-19 Response Efforts

As the pandemic rages on, family doctors play an important role in keeping our healthcare system from collapsing. While the bulk of hospital capacity and workforce has shifted to respond to COVID-19, family physicians are lending critical support to the global fight. They are working just as tirelessly by responding to general medical concerns of communities or referring COVID-19 cases for specialized care.

According to the American College of Physicians (ACP), due to the broader education they receive compared to internal medicine specialists, family doctors can handle a wide range of medical issues. The typical patient mix of a family doctor is around 10-15% of children and 85-90% adults. As generalists, their extensive range makes them extremely valuable in communities that may not have nearby specialists.  

An essential component in the healthcare system, the family medicine specialty, was borne out of the general practitioner movement in the late 1960s that sought to address the growing specialization of the medical field. The practice primarily responds to the medical needs of the family unit as opposed to a specific segment of the population based on markers or health needs like age, sex, organ system, or the nature of the required intervention. 

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Supporting The Frontlines

This critical role is in sharp relief amid the ongoing pandemic. Even as COVID patients account for a growing number of in-patient cases, general medical conditions and injuriesflu, cold, and high blood pressure, to name a fewdo not just magically go away. This is the domain of family doctors who are helping pick up the slack, allowing limited resources and workforce to go where they are most needed and augment efforts against the COVID-19.

An article published in the European Journal of General Practice in April 2020 tried to map out how family doctors are coping with the unique challenges of the pandemic. The authors attempted to unpack the various anxieties faced by family physicians as they try to carry out their job without the tools of physical examination and observation. 

When face-to-face consultations are limited, how can family doctors make accurate decisions? When COVID-19 shares symptoms with the common flu or cold, how can they make sure that it’s just flu and not something worse? These are some of the concerns raised by the authors in the journal article.

In The Line Of Fire

In addition to intense pressure, family doctors also face the ultimate risk. A July 2020 study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania revealed alarming findings suggesting that those working in primary care may have faced the highest risk of dying compared to in-patient hospital workers at the frontlines. Family physicians seemed to have felt the impact of the virus more than hospital-based physicians.  

Of the reported global deaths among healthcare workers as of May 13, the study observed that more than half were physicians. Among the physician fatalities, the most significant subset at 26.9% were general practitioners, family medicine, or primary care doctors that succumbed to the disease compared to 7.4% of deaths from those in closer proximity to the COVID-19 health response like emergency medical workers, critical care specialists, and anesthesiologists. 

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The study argues that part of the reason why fatalities were higher for the former than the latter was that the former was likely to be ill-equipped at that time compared to workers at the frontlines who may have had better access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Recall that during the first few months of the pandemic, healthcare workers grappled with widespread shortages of face masks, shields, and gloves as supply chains buckled under intense demand.

Due to their embedded role in the community, the study added that family physicians, general practitioners, and primary care doctors, might have been more likely to see patients with early-stage, mild, or asymptomatic COVID without PPEs at a time when the virus was not fully understood. Some have already paid the price and died in the line of duty.   

The New Normal

Despite the emotional toll of the pandemic on healthcare workers, researchers say that family physicians are adapting quickly in the new normal and still keeping their practice open. There are instances when physicians separate patient streams of potential COVID patients from non-COVID cases, while strictly enforcing physical distancing in waiting rooms, and embracing telehealth services. 

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It is also observable how hospitals promptly place triage centers so that the general population still gets the care they need in the middle of the pandemic. Additionally, new guidelines were developed at record time to guide family medicine practitioners in areas of protective measures, video call systems, referrals to ICU, care guidance, and other decisions they have to carry out in the line of work.  

As we can see, our family doctors are an essential part of keeping the virus at bay, but the responsibility is not solely their own. Let us all do our part by washing our hands frequently, avoiding non-essential travel, and wearing a mask when going out so we can give our health workers the recognition they deserve once this is all over.  

You’re A Successful Business Leader If You Have These Qualities

 

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The Tech Expo 2019 was an enormous event attended by eager business amateurs as well as modern-day business leaders who made a name for themselves through new technologies and innovative materials. The speakers shared their personal experiences and techniques on helping novice entrepreneurs solve different business challenges that they meet every day. Exhibitors from different states also graced the event with their latest tech inventions. Attendees got to learn what’s new, what was coming, and how they can apply what they have learned in real-life situations. Indeed, the business leaders were the inspiration to all those who were looking forward to finding ways to like them. So how to be like them?

Qualities Of A Successful Business Leader

Self-Awareness. One of the most vital qualities of an effective business leader, self-awareness is one’s capacity to understand and accept his strengths and weaknesses. He does not hide his weaknesses but rather addresses them so that he can find a sensible solution. If he does suppress his weakness, he becomes vulnerable eventually and his business suffers in the end.

Fairness. A successful business leader treats others fairly regardless of the situation. It is a must-have quality if you want to succeed and be effective. If you don’t handle your colleagues and employees equally, you are in for a disaster. Along with this, you must have principles and best practices in place that will enable you to attain your goals for your company as much as for yourself.

Many business people join hands together for the first agreement to do business together Premium Photo

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Willpower. An effective business leader has the willpower to make sound decisions in a timely manner, no matter how difficult. Often, a lot of leaders forget that a decision has to be made or it will paralyze his business and everything in it. They tend to delay their decision and this almost always causes a bigger problem. If you are a seasoned and successful leader, you have learned the hard way, and you know that you need to take action confidently and quickly.

Knowledge. Obviously, this is last but not least. A business leader without knowledge is literally worthless. He needs to be a good listener as much as an effective facilitator. He has to be knowledgeable to be respected by his employees who are looking to learn from him. A successful business leader is updated with the current trends, important facts, and best practices in business.

 

 

 

How Technology Saves Lives During Quarantine

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Technology has been a part of the norm for as long as I can remember. You are considered a cool kid in the 90s if you came to school with a phone. The gadgets back then were not as fancy as the smartphones that we have these days, but having one was uncommon at the time. And the more you change your device, the more people want to be friends around you.

Even I adopted such technological advancements over the years, though I was never a fan of any of them. I have a laptop, two iPhones, and an iPad because they are required in my fast-paced work environment. But if it were up to me, I would be going old school with a pen and paper.

I only saw the significance of using technology when the quarantine came because:

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It Allowed Me To Stay In Touch With My Loved Ones

Despite not needing to go to work ever since my company followed the stay-at-home order, I could not go home to see my parents. They lived in Hawaii, you see, and no one was allowed to enter the island at the time. The other option was for Mom and Dad to fly to New York, but I could not bear to make them do that. Both of my parents were over the age of 60 and at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.

What kept all of us sane was the fact that we could Facetime every single day with each other. My parents would wake me up in the middle of the morning, and then we would talk chat making and eating breakfast. Sometimes, the call would last until mid-afternoon, just when Mom and Dad were about to take a nap.
My parents and I had not been this close before, but I am all for this change.

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It Helped Me Get Groceries Without Leaving The Couch

When I heard about the quarantine, I initially worried about how I could get my groceries. I knew that supermarkets were open, but I was a little scared to go out. After some online research, though, I found out some of them were offering to deliver the customers’ groceries to their house. That’s what I had been doing in the last few weeks.

Without technology, I would have had to go out there and increase my chances of getting the coronavirus. Thankfully, I didn’t have to come out and greet the delivery people at the door because the groceries were already paid for when I checked them out online. I only needed to wait for 24 hours before picking up the grocery bags to ensure that no viruses were sticking to them.

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It Eases Boredom

I used to say that I could live alone on an island for a year with just a few books and nothing else to entertain me. However, after several weeks of being holed up in my apartment in the city, I felt bored. I tried to fool myself in the next days, but I ended up turning on my TV and watching some movies on Netflix.

Without technology, I might have chosen to break the quarantine rules to kill my boredom. Reading was not enough to make me happy; supplementing it with doing movie marathons did.

Final Thoughts

No one should ever be too proud to admit that technology is an essential part of our lives. Perhaps our ancestors have been able to live without it, but that’s because no one has invented it back in the day. However, we have grown up with technology, so we cannot shake it off our system anytime soon.

Whether we like it or not, technology can save us in more ways than one during the quarantine.

3 Coolest And Newest Gadgets Of 2020

Man Wearing Black Virtual Reality Goggles

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There was a lot of excitement at the 2017 Tech Expo as the attendees got the opportunity to see and try for themselves the newest technology products that were included in the vendor showcase. This yearly event has always been free to the public, which is why it is often jampacked with people even from other states. Technological products included LCD interactive displays and projectors, digital whole house sound systems, and a lot more. Students from different universities were encouraged to join the event.

Now, as we enter the second quarter of 2020, let us see what’s popular and what’s new in the digital technology world.

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR. The car company partnered with the Avatar team and the movie’s director James Cameron to come up with this fantastic gadget that shows how an automobile can be one with its environment without becoming an actual plant. It features autonomous driving without a steering wheel, the newest virtual technology system, and an unbelievable electric battery system. So how does this work? Check it out now!

KEEP Cannabis Storage. As social acceptance has become a good friend of cannabis nowadays, this unit is a discreet way of storing your stash in your own home conveniently. It has a clock and weather forecast display, but the top opens up to several small storage spaces for your cannabis products, plus a rolling tray. The highlight of the product is its locking system. It works through facial recognition – just like your cellphone! And if someone else tries to open it, you’ll get a notification. Awesome!

Sandbox, Big Screen, Tv, The Front Desk, Light, Office

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Samsung Sero. This TV features more than LED and 4K – it shifts from the horizontal to the vertical plane. Sero in Korean means ‘vertical.’ It’s currently available in Korea and will be seen globally this year. What’s the amazing feature? It flips!