According to a study from the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 Americans ages 18 or older live with a mental illness. However, half are not receiving treatment. What is happening, and how can companies help overcome this problem? We’ll go into this throughout this blog!
Mental Health vs. Mental Illness
Before going further, it is vital to recognize the differences between mental health and mental illnesses.
Mental health refers to an individual's overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is characterized by the ability to manage one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively and function daily.
On the other hand, mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect an individual's mood, thinking, and behavior. Some common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Barriers to Mental Health
Mental Health is in crisis in the United States; more people seek help than the services offered. On top of that, the pandemic only aggravated this problem with increased cases of depression, anxiety, and further deteriorating existing cases of mental illness.
Receiving the right help is vital for the person and all the people surrounding them, from their families to their communities. Mental help treatment can dramatically reduce or eliminate the risk of suicide, legal issues, family conflict, unemployment, and substance abuse.
But if this help is so vital, and many people need it, why is it not being accessed by so many people in the US? Many factors can contribute, and some of the main reasons include the following:
- Inadequate funding for mental health services: Despite the prevalence of mental health disorders in the US, the mental health care system is underfunded and lacks resources to provide adequate support to individuals with mental health issues.
- Lack of access to care: Many people with mental illness do not have mental health care due to a lack of resources in their community. This can be especially true in rural areas, where mental health providers may be scarce.
- Stigma: There is still a significant stigma surrounding mental illness, which can prevent people from seeking help or admitting to needing treatment. Some people may fear being labeled as "crazy" or "weird" or feel ashamed about their condition.
- Lack of awareness: Some people may not be aware that they have a mental health condition or may not yet understand the benefits of treatment.
- Cost: The cost of mental health care can be a barrier for many people. Many insurance plans do not cover mental health care to the same extent as physical health care, and out-of-pocket costs can be high.
- Limited availability of providers: There is a shortage of mental health providers in the US, making it difficult for people to access care.
- Insufficient integration of mental and physical health care: There is often a lack of coordination and collaboration between mental and physical health care providers, leading to fragmented and ineffective care.
- Limited focus on prevention and early intervention: The mental health care system often focuses on treating mental health disorders once they have developed rather than prioritizing prevention and early intervention to prevent the development of mental health issues in the first place.
Addressing these barriers to care will require policy changes, increased funding for mental health services, and efforts to reduce stigma and raise awareness about the importance of mental health care.
The digital health revolution has the potential to accelerate some of these improvements and help make mental health care more accessible to all.
The Digital Health Revolution
Digital health refers to using technology, such as mobile apps, wearable devices, and telehealth, to improve and support health and healthcare. These technologies can be used to help manage and treat mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Overall, digital health has the potential to transform mental health by providing more convenient, accessible, and personalized care, which can help more people get the support they need to manage their mental health and well-being.
Top startups joining the Digital Health Revolution
Technology is advancing fast, and many startups have already joined the revolution in developing mental health solutions. Below are some of them.
Mental health apps
Many mobile apps are designed to help people manage their mental health and well-being. These apps may offer features such as stress and anxiety management techniques, mood tracking, and virtual therapy sessions. These are some of the companies revolutionizing the industry:
- Talkspace: Talkspace is a teletherapy service that offers therapy sessions through a mobile app.
- BetterHelp: BetterHelp is an online therapy service that offers individual therapy, couples therapy, and group therapy through a mobile app.
- Moodfit: Moodfit is a mental health app that offers personalized recommendations and exercises based on a user's mood and behavior data.
- Happify: Happify is a mental health app that offers evidence-based activities and exercises to help users manage stress, improve their mood, and boost their well-being.
- Woebot: Woebot is a mental health app that uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help users manage their mental health.
Some wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, have features that can help people manage their mental health. For example, they may track sleep patterns, offer relaxation exercises, and provide notifications to take breaks and practice self-care. These are some of the companies specializing in wearable devices:
- Thync: Thync is a wearable device that uses low-level electrical stimulation to help users manage stress and improve their mood.
- Spire: Spire is a wearable device that tracks breathing patterns and provides feedback to help users manage stress and improve their overall well-being.
- Moodfit: Moodfit is a mental health app that offers a wearable device that tracks a user's activity and sleep patterns and provides personalized recommendations based on this data.
- Calmd: Calmd is a wearable device that uses vibration and sound to help users relax and manage stress.
Teletherapy, telepsychiatry, or telemedicine, refers to video or phone sessions to provide mental health care remotely. This can be a convenient option for people who live in rural areas or have mobility issues that make it challenging to access in-person care. These are some of the top teletherapy companies:
- Seven Starling: is a digital health company that offers mental healthcare for women throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
- Bend Health: is a national healthcare company that increases access and reduces the cost of expert mental health care for kids, teens, and families.
- Talkspace: This app-based teletherapy service connects users with licensed therapists for one-on-one online therapy sessions.
- Teladoc: is a telemedicine company that provides access to healthcare professionals through phone or video appointments. In addition to therapy and counseling, Teladoc offers primary care, dermatology, and nutrition services.
- Spring Health: This mental health benefits platform uses artificial intelligence to match individuals with the right therapist or coach based on their needs and preferences.
- Amwell: This telehealth platform offers various medical and mental health services, including therapy and counseling, through video or phone appointments.
Virtual reality therapy
Virtual reality (VR) therapy uses immersive virtual environments to help people manage mental health conditions such as anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. VR therapy can be a valuable tool for assisting people in confronting their fears and improving their coping skills. Here are some examples:
- Firsthand Technology: Firsthand Technology is a company that offers VR therapy for phobias and other anxiety disorders.
- Oxford VR: Oxford VR is a company that offers VR therapy for mental health conditions such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
- Virtually Better: Virtually Better is a company that offers VR therapy for various mental health conditions, including phobias, PTSD, and substance abuse.
- Applied VR: Applied VR is a company that offers VR therapy for pain management and other mental health conditions.
Online support groups:
Online support groups provide community support for people dealing with mental health challenges. These groups can be accessed through social media platforms, forums, or specialized websites. These companies have developed solutions.
- Ginger: Ginger is a mental health and well-being company that offers online support groups for people dealing with mental health issues.
- 7 Cups: 7 Cups is a mental health and well-being company that offers online support groups for people dealing with various mental health issues.
- Supportiv: Supportiv is a company that offers online support groups for people dealing with mental health issues and other challenges such as career and relationships.
Where is Mental Health going?
The future direction of mental health in the US is difficult to predict with certainty, but some trends suggest potential changes. One possibility is an increased emphasis on preventative measures, such as mental health education and early intervention, to address issues before they become more severe. There may also be a shift towards more holistic and integrative approaches to treatment that consider the whole person and their unique needs. In addition, technology-based mental health services, such as teletherapy and online support groups, may continue to become more widely available and utilized. Ultimately, the goal of mental health in the US is likely to remain focused on improving access to high-quality care and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.