Apps, video calls, social media, streaming and podcasts play a role in people’s mental health, creating a new era of online support.
Mental health is a major global problem, with the number of depressions and anxiety increasing dramatically as people are forced to stay at home to fight Covid19. People are isolated in many countries where containment is not over, with little interaction with the outside world, which can lead to a combination of fatigue, mood swings and sleep disturbances, which are serious problems that need to be addressed in modern society.
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Almost a third of those who responded to this survey reported suffering from severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety or stress. However, only 30% reported having access to services to support their health and psychological well-being. The new coronavirus will also be destructive long after the virus has passed. It’s an incredible job long before Covid-19: supporting someone at the end of their life, who wants to do it?
However, technology keeps in touch with loved ones, thanks to new means of communication, from video calls to apps for smartphones, helping people get through this difficult time. The capacity of new technologies to have a large-scale impact is very real, but it has not yet taken off. Very few cyber mental health services respond favorably to the following four quality criteria: scientific validation, user experience, confidentiality and security of data, as well as the economic viability of the service.
In the week following the start of national confinement in India, the number of reported mental illness cases increased by 20%, as shown a study of the Indian Psychiatry Society. There are many reasons – from fear of job loss, wage cuts and unemployment to debt.
Here are some examples of how technology can support and raise awareness about mental health around the world.
There are now countless smartphone apps that help people get back into good physical health. In comparison, there are far fewer who focus solely on mental health, helping people cope with things like anxiety and depression.
However, these mental health apps have been shown to help both consumers with these problems and health experts such as therapists, through useful behavioral data. During Covid-19, these applications became vital and are an extra effort to support the most disadvantaged. For example, the Anglo-American online health care company Headspace specializes in meditation with hundreds of thematic sessions on a wide variety of subjects such as stress, sleep, concentration and anxiety including SOS exercises to do in the event of a little cracking. It is now free for the unemployed in the United States.
Although there are more than 2,000 registered meditation applications on the market today, Headspace is one of the only ones committed to advancing the field of mindfulness meditation through clinically validated research. The company is undertaking research studies with major national institutions that may be among the largest mindfulness meditation trials ever conducted.
Thanks to this research and development, applications like Headspace have built cutting-edge platforms for mental well-being and provide free services to customers in this crisis period.
The biggest spike in users during containment has most likely come from video call services that have become essential for communicating with people. Being face to face with someone, whether it is colleagues or family, is important for mental health, which can be severely affected by lack of human interaction.
Applications like Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp have seen the demographic age grow. From young children to the elderly using it as their only form of social interaction. In fact, many have used these platforms to talk to more people and perhaps those they have not been in contact with as much as they have been able to in the past.
However, video calls can be more exhausting for some employees because they require more concentration to process facial expressions and body language. Employees are also likely to use similar video calling software to stay in touch with family and friends during confinement. As a result, fatigue and anxiety related to video calls can affect your employees in their personal and professional lives, leaving them no break from “going out” and taking care of their own mental well-being.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Satya Nadella gave a warning, while speaking of the serious consequences of permanent remote work on the mental health of workers. The boss of Microsoft said that virtual video calls could not replace face-to-face meetings. Moving from pre-epidemic offices to a fully remote configuration would be “replacing one dogma with another,” he added.
Smartphones, tablets and laptops have given the public, specialists and researchers new ways to access support and data, helping society better understand the importance of mental health.
Social media, streaming and podcasts play a role
Many people are divided by the impact of social media, with many advantages and disadvantages. However, social media has many advantages, especially at times like these. On the one hand, they have enabled online communities to share their thoughts and feelings, bringing together people who are likely to experience the same problems. Hilary Hendel, Natasha Tracy and Chessie King are good examples.
Londoner Joe Wicks has taken to the world stage with his daily PE lessons, inviting millions into his living room for virtual training. Youtube quickly became an accessible platform for fitness, which has been a determining factor in the mental health of many people in recent months.
Despite the containment, flows like this can actually lead to an increase in the overall physical condition of consumers, who may have a first glimpse of a fitness routine.
There are many podcasts for mental health, from Happy Place by Ferne Cotton to How to Fail by Elizabeth Day, which spark discussions about mental well-being, challenges and even how to deal with failure. . Podcasts have the advantage over other forms of media because they are able to effectively break the fourth wall and create a more relaxed and enjoyable discussion with oral content. Should shrinks have a digital life? Is it a good idea to expose your sanity on these platforms? What are the possible therapeutic approaches online? Should we be wary of certain approaches? The Binge podcast below tries to answer them.