There is more technological development than ever right now! We are in an era of major digital health expansion, including in the mental health sector. Technology is increasingly being used to treat mental disorders in a variety of ways.
Using digital media as methods for treatment has many potential benefits, especially for younger generations. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that 90% of Gen Z experienced psychological or physical symptoms as a result of stress in the last year. McKinsey Insights reports that Gen Z report double the amount of stress than older generations.
Gen Z is at the forefront of this current boom in technological development, with an average of ten hours of screen time every day - for better or worse, they are digital natives. This generation has been the first to pick up on new technologies and have guided its development for the last decade. Some argue that this increase in mental health problems across younger generations is due to an increased dependency on technology, but the truth is likely to be that smartphones and social media can be harmful but can also be the medium of good quality care. Others propose that the higher rates of mental health issues are due to the growing conversations surrounding mental health and the pathologising of normal experience. Regardless of where you stand, we can all agree that mental health is an issue for younger generations today. But the technological savviness of Gen Z and the growing integration of older generations into the digital world makes digital treatment a great solution for the future.
Here are some of the benefits:
Almost everyone - at least in the West - has a phone, computer, or access to an internet-enabled device. Digital treatment gives anyone access to support through the devices that they already have. The technology we already have also connects us to millions of individuals, communities, and resources we wouldn't otherwise be connected to, making treatment and support more easy to find. Digital tools also allow people to access help from wherever they are; there is no need to physically go somewhere to get the help you need. You can access support instantly anywhere you go.
Finding the support you need can be expensive. Whether its therapy costs, recovery program bills, doctors visits, etc. it can add up. Digital treatment can offer more inexpensive, sometimes free, alternatives.
It can be difficult finding treatment that is catered specifically to you. Sometimes your needs and goals are not addressed in existing mental health treatment and recovery programs. Digital recovery tools promise a great way to access personalized support. Our phones may soon know us better than we do! Using this as an opportunity to get mental health support that matches our recovery needs will be an amazing benefit.
Lack of social stigma
Digital treatment can be a great way to maintain confidentiality in mental health recovery. The conversations surrounding mental health problems have increased in the past few years, but there is still a long way to go in combating stigma and shame. Digital treatment allows more privacy in a recovery journey, and with the development of more digital treatment resources, it will hopefully continue to grow the conversation and support surrounding these issues.
Many new digital treatments are being developed!
Beanbag Health is currently working on a digital app that offers a recovery program for people who struggle with eating disorders. Beanbag plans to launch our app later this year!
We're allowing people to trial to app right now for free, though!
To trial it, sign up here!
Until then, here is a list of some companies that are doing amazing things in combining technology with mental health support:
Headspace - meditation and sleep made simple
Alena - app designed to help people manage and overcome social anxiety
Inflow - app to help manage ADHD
And platforms like Discord, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, which have helped connect people to information, resources, communities, and support!
Jack is an intern at Beanbag Health. He is a senior at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Management. Jack states that he has already learned so much during his time at Beanbag Health and feels excited to be a part of a company that is working towards making eating disorder recovery support more accessible. He is looking forward to a future where everyone will be able to access affordable and effective mental health care.
Clinically Reviewed By:
Iain is a consultant psychiatrist with postgraduate training in medicine, psychiatry, complexity science, and healthcare informatics. He's fascinated by the relationship between physical health and mental health and has extensive experience with eating disorder patients in inpatient settings. He's an honorary senior clinical lecturer at University of Oxford. His passion is making psychological strategies for recovery available to all.