Technology and Mental Health Pt. 2

Technology and Mental Health Pt. 2

The Journal News, a local newspaper out of Butler County, Ohio, recently reported on a new research project at the University of Cincinnati. Focusing on patients who have lost their hearing due to non-cancerous tumors, the project is studying how a combination of art therapy and robotic companions, in this case a puppy, can help people cope with the depression and isolation that often accompany problems in the brain.

"One technology they’re examining is the Joy for All brand robotic dogs that sell for about $129," Mike Rutledge reports. "Another is an art-therapy app the UC team developed to help people who can’t get that help in person, but instead can do so remotely and then upload their artworks." UC uploaded a summary of the program on their YouTube page.

The study is one of several ways medical professionals and technology researchers are expanding the frontiers of mental health. Let's learn about some other projects that are helping to deploy more resources to patients.

New Frontiers

One notable project, which is being conducted at MIT, uses artificial intelligence to record, analyze, and eventually give feedback on the sort of language that mental health counselors use with their patients. "The aim is to give therapists better insight into what they do, helping experienced therapists maintain a high standard of care and helping trainees improve. Amid a global shortfall in care, an automated form of quality control could be essential in helping clinics meet demand."

Other developments have taken place in the realm of psychometric assessments. Psychometric assessments are used to measure and diagnose a number psychological ailments as well as issues with cognition, emotional regulation and memory.  They can also be used to track changes in mental health over time.

Digital psychometric tools allow assessors to create novel test scenarios, including ones that mimic human interaction. They also make evaluating assessments much quicker and easier by eliminating manual grading on paper. Furthermore, algorithms can analyze huge sets of assessment data, enabling researchers to view trends over time as well as rates and likelihoods of certain forms of mental illness in particular populations. One study even suggests that digital psychometric assessments can be used to enhance both hiring practices and motivation in the workplace when used properly.

Finally, telehealth, which we've covered in the past, is arguably one of the most important developments in technology as it relates to well-being of all kinds. As the pandemic has forced many people to retreat indoors, getting the proper mental health care isn't as easy as it used to be. Moreover, even without the stresses of the pandemic, there are still many communities in the United States, particularly rural communities, with mental healthcare shortages. Telehealth enables patients to broaden their search for professionals and get care without leaving their homes. As we pointed out last week, there are numerous apps for finding therapists, but many hospitals and medical practices now have their own in-house telehealth programs for patients who can't come to the office.

Are you a medical practice or mental health clinic looking to expand your patients' technological resources? Titan Tech can help you set up new telehealth infrastructure and even advise on the right platform. Reach out today to learn more.

And join us next week for more tech news.