Tech support for mental health

Rachel Rowson

World Mental Health Day recognises the growing awareness of a problem which has always existed, but not always been acknowledged. While our reliance on technology is often blamed for damaging mental welfare, it is also spawning a variety of tools to help address the problem. Needless to say mental health problems are not fixed by simply turning off and turning back on.

In a time where young people are digital natives, it makes sense that digital technology has a part to play in supporting mental health and wellbeing.

On this World Mental Health Day (which is focused on children and adolescents) I have looked at three digital tools which are designed to help proactively manage your mental wellness, give you support when you experience mental ill health, and an opportunity to get involved and volunteer to support those who need it.

Discover Calm

Voted the ‘App of the Year’ by Apple last year, Calm promises to support you through meditation and mindfulness.  Like exercising and eating healthy food to keep your body well, proactively focusing on mental wellness is rising in popularity.  Calm, which has been around since 2012, includes guided meditations, breathing exercises, sleep stories to help you wind down, and music to help you relax and focus.  With over 14 million downloads and over 40,000 new users per day, it is clearly very popular!

Therapy at your fingertips

ieso is an online platform which allows therapists to deliver cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to patients via real-time online chatting.  This is a convenient and discreet way for people to get access to CBT.  Appointments can be scheduled at any time of the day and during the evenings and weekends, helping to make this fit around the demands of life.  And because it is conducted by text, there is no chance that conversations will be overheard.  Access to ieso services are provided free by the NHS in 28 parts of the England.

Give us a shout

Shout: for support in a crisis is the UK’s first free 24/7 direct messaging service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.  This exists in the US and is branded as the ‘Crisis text line’.  Shout goes live in the UK in 2019, and they are currently recruiting volunteers to staff up the service.  This isn’t something you should go in to lightly, as it is a significant commitment of time and requires the resilience and mentally robustness to help people in distress.  But it also offers the chance to have an impact on people’s lives and make a difference.

These are just three out of hundreds of digital and online tools and support systems which can help positive mental wellbeing and deliver more structured interventions for those who require them.  Social media and technology often get a bad reputation for negatively impacting on young people’s mental health.  This, to a point, is justified.  But the potential that digital innovation can play in helping to bring mental health out of the shadows and to enable people to receive quick and effective treatment must also be applauded and encouraged.