There is still so much stigma around addressing mental health issues across all generations. People find it hard to open up about the real issues that affect their mental and emotional stability even with close friends and family, let alone with a therapist.
According to Americal Psychological Association, Millenials and Gen Zs are more prone to mental health problems than any other generations. Around 6 in 10 of them feel various kinds of mental health issues like stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
The digital revolution and smartphone dependency play a key role in growing this number. Around 7 in 10 feel technology causes digital stress. They also claim these technologies limited face to face interactions to a large extent.
However, they are also more likely to seek professional help compared to Gen Xers and baby boomers. 37 % Gen Z and 35 % millennials have reported being likely to receive or have received treatment or therapy. But that said, there is still more than 60% of them who are reluctant to seek professional help for these issues. Experts suggest that digital therapy can be the ultimate solution to this.
What is Digital Therapy?
When it comes to the treatment of mental health problems, traditional methods like medications and psychological interventions don’t seem to be working for younger generations. They need a more personalized solution to deal with their mental and emotional struggles.
That’s when the idea of digital therapy came to life. Digital therapy is the use of software, mobile apps, wearables, and other digital techniques as therapeutic interventions to treat various medical disorders. Collectively these devices and techniques are known as digital therapeutics.
The idea of digital therapeutics is not anything new. FDA had recently approved Pear’s reSET app as the first medical app to treat people who are suffering from substance abuse. So it’s assured that we’ll also get to see many other apps for the treatment of various other diseases soon. Mobile app development companies are already working very hard on developing such apps.
How Does Digital Therapy Works?
Digital therapy in its core is not entirely different from the traditional face to face therapeutic interventions. Most digital therapy practices rely on the cognitive behavioral therapy method. It focuses on the idea of improving the patient’s behavioral and lifestyle patterns through regular guidance.
Digital therapy can be as simple as providing reminders to the patients as to what to do, what not to do and other trigger warning at certain times of the day or situations. A mobile app itself can set the treatment schedule, and the patients just have to follow it. And the patients can also view their progress through the app. Sometimes, AI-powered chatbots are also used to give regular guidance
Besides digital therapeutics as a standalone method, it can be used as a conjunction of medications and face to face interventions as well. The app itself can let the patients interact with a remote therapist or psychologist. Or the app can be the extension of the in-person therapy method to keep the patients engaged in the routine through notifications and updates as well.
Will Smartphones Replace Pills?
The idea of a psychologist prescribing a mobile app as a cure for a disease can seem far-fetched at first. But in mental health issues, the techniques are always more effective than the pills in the long run.
We also have to consider the cost and side effects of medications. In some cases, patients also tend to be overly dependent on pills like anti-depressant. That ultimately lead to an addiction to these pills. But digital therapy mostly promotes lifestyle and dietary changes. So the risks associated with the treatment are very low. Also, digital therapeutics get easily approved by FDA as opposed to pills
Digital therapies are generally classified in two ways. One is medication augmentation and the other one is medication replacement. These methods are recommended according to the nature of the patient’s condition. For some patients, the treatment starts with medication augmentation and then slowly makes the transition to complete medication replacement.
How Can Digital Therapy Attract Youngsters?
There is an interesting article in PsychotherapyNetworkoer on why teens hate therapy. Most therapists are not trained to talk to youngsters. And the youngsters often are reluctant to talk about their feelings with complete strangers who know nothing about the struggles and likes of their generation.
We have previously established that youngsters are comfortable with digital or online interactions as opposed to face to face communications. The idea is not about if it is a good habit or not. It’s about how we can make something productive out of these inclinations.
That’s when smartphones and mobile app development come to the rescue. Youngsters use these technologies for almost everything. Whether social media apps or games apps, they can’t seem to live without them. So if a digital therapy app is made to replicate these functions, we can attract more patients to this technique. Gamification and personalization always keep the users engaged with the app.
The ultimate aim of digital therapy is to make the patients comfortable to address their issues and treat those issues with no external push. So when the patients feel like they are not alone, it sets the ground for gradual improvement in their mental stability. So, it’s safe to say that digital therapy is here to stay.