Mental health issues can be viewed as a sensitive topic and one that is often left on the back burner. In part, this is because mental health issues can be challenging to understand and quantify. It can also be difficult for individuals to admit they need help.
Making matters worse is the stigma around mental health issues and the challenge of making mental health more understood to the public. Frequently, when someone has a mental illness, they are discredited or treated as less than a whole person and identified as a collection of symptoms.
While taking steps to eliminate the harmful stigmas attached to many mental health conditions is a collective effort, technology is making a significant contribution to addressing this issue and encouraging individuals to seek care. Online tools and applications can generate valuable information regarding mental health gaps, trends and outcomes in various populations to help raise awareness. By raising mental health awareness, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners can reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and increase mental healthcare access.
Technology provides continuous mental healthcare access
Lack of access is among the primary reasons most patients do not seek treatment for mental illnesses. Recent data reveals over 100 million Americans live in areas where there is a shortage of mental health professionals. The reasons underlying this professional shortage are complex, and it can sometimes feel like there might be more challenges than solutions to this growing issue.
Thanks to innovative technological advancements such as teletherapy, mental healthcare leaders have the opportunity to overcome what seems like an unwinnable war. Teletherapy refers to counseling and psychiatric treatment delivered through technologies such as video conferencing. Mental healthcare professionals are often the initial point of contact when someone seeks medical attention for a mental illness.
In several mental healthcare environments, mental healthcare professionals can also be the focal point for mental healthcare education and long-term mental health tracking. Thanks to teletherapy, mental healthcare counselors can care for numerous patients and spend more time between appointments. According to a Forbes report, telemedicine consultations can save more time than in-person visits. With less time charting and moving between patients, mental health therapists can provide direct care and one-on-one communication to achieve more personalized treatment that would otherwise be logistically challenging in real life.
In addition, powerful technological advancements such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) tools allow healthcare professionals to track their patients continuously and modify therapy plans as needed. This is particularly helpful considering early identification of mental illness symptoms can be essential for effective treatment and helps to reduce the cost of treatment. In severe cases, early detection and treatment can even save lives.
RPM tools use robust sensors and wearable devices to measure the patient’s vital signs. Once the data has been gathered, these dynamic RPM mental healthcare tools transmit it to a cloud database where mental healthcare providers can access it. This information on vital signs is then manually or automatically contrasted to the lower and upper values established by the mental healthcare professional.
If a set boundary is exceeded, the RPM system initiates a warning message and alerts the mental healthcare professional about an unusual situation. Several RPM technologies also feature an analytics capability that uses data visualization tools to offer users real-time information. Mental healthcare professionals can use these tools to identify trends and patterns, predict risky events and outcomes and make decisions on the best possible treatment.
Support for more personalized mental healthcare
Personalization is changing every industry, and mental healthcare is no exception. By adopting high-quality personalized care that evolves along with the patient’s recovery process, mental healthcare professionals can increase the likelihood of achieving improved results and even reduce their client’s recovery time.
Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence can combine physical information such as heart rate and behavioral data to tailor care to individual patient experiences. For example, online therapy can be customized to each patient’s fears and phobias to provide a more individualized approach. Similarly, machine learning algorithms can evaluate patient information and determine symptom patterns to develop personalized treatment plans.
Considering the diversity of symptoms that can arise for numerous mental health conditions, gaining nuanced insights from real-world evidence can empower mental healthcare professionals to create treatment interventions that address the patient holistically. Through holistic mental health treatment, mental healthcare professionals can help patients to achieve physical and emotional equilibrium and address any underlying causes.
Until more recent technological innovations, any patient’s unique knowledge that mental health clinicians have referenced likely depended upon self-reported family histories and tracking for suspected predispositions. With artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, mental healthcare professionals can leverage real-time information in setting up targeted treatments to address each patient’s underlying issue and support healthier recoveries and easier ongoing health management.
Put simply, tech developments allow easier patient data access. This, in turn, allows mental health professionals to deliver targeted interventions that consider the patient’s current health, the risks they are facing and their societal background. Personalized mental healthcare experiences also increase engagement and support a more collaborative relationship between the psychiatric nurse practitioner and the patient. By effectively engaging patients in their care, mental health professionals can enhance patient satisfaction and improve service delivery.
Promotes better mental health education
Treatment and medication are crucial in tackling mental health issues. However, the necessity and importance of proper mental health education cannot be overstated. Through comprehensive mental health education, leaders can provide the necessary awareness and resources for individuals and their loved ones while eliminating the stigma associated with mental health.
Technology has a significant role in promoting better mental health education by providing accessible and innovative resources. For example, interactive content such as podcasts and videos can make mental health more appealing and understandable. At the same time, AI-powered chatbots can provide data and support for common mental health issues by offering immediate help and guidance. In addition, it can bridge language barriers by providing language translation tools to make mental health education available to a more diverse and global audience.
Best of all, leading academic institutions such as Wilkes University use technology to offer mental health training courses such as PMHNP Certificate Programs. These programs allow MSN and DNP-prepared registered nurses to update their skills and remain on top of evolving mental health issues and treatments. Through certification courses, registered nurses can transition to working as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Students will be prepared to enhance patient outcomes in an integrated care model through the management and treatment of psychiatric conditions.
What makes these courses advantageous to aspiring psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners is their ability to be tailored to address specific mental health issues. For example, there are various online programs and resources designed for individuals dealing with addiction, depression and anxiety. In short, these courses allow psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners to specialize and impact their practice more deeply.
Reduces mental healthcare errors
Medical errors are an increasing concern among mental health circles as they can be life-threatening in some situations. According to PubMed Central, medication administration errors occur more often than ordinary in mental health hospitals. In addition, medical errors in American hospitals and healthcare organizations are the third leading cause of death in the country, with nearly 100,000 occurring annually.
Although these challenges are still distressingly frequent in hospitals, wider technology adoption has made mental healthcare safer for clients and patients. Currently, several organizations are using technologies such as electronic medical record systems and artificial intelligence algorithms to tackle various medical errors, such as medication mistakes. Clients experiencing unanticipated side effects from a specific drug are also cause for concern.
To prevent medication errors, mental health organizations are using AI algorithms to scan electronic medical records for any signs that an error has occurred. These algorithms can also inform psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners of potential harm in real-time by detecting changes in lab results that could be out of the ordinary. Using technology to digitize mental healthcare processes, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners can increase clinical workflow standardization and efficiency.
Technology can also offer a central channel to allow organizational members to identify medication errors more quickly and detect trends. Doing so makes it easier to pinpoint where an error might occur and allows leadership teams to formulate corrective plans for action quickly. By anticipating medical errors before they happen, psychiatric mental health nurses can establish preventive measures that help them do their jobs better and improve patient outcomes.
Improves mental healthcare of elderly people
Mental healthcare of elderly individuals is an outsized problem in advanced countries. While most have excellent health, many are at risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders. According to the Global Health Estimates, nearly 15% of adults 60 and over live with a mental disorder. Although various reasons contribute to mental health issues among adults, social isolation and loneliness are among the prevailing risk factors for mental health conditions in later life.
Poor mental health prevention and promotion strategies for older adults concentrate on supporting healthy aging. This means establishing social and physical environments that support wellbeing and enable people to do what is essential to them. Social connection is a crucial aspect in reducing risk factors such as loneliness and social isolation for older adults. At this stage of their lives, meaningful activities can significantly improve life satisfaction, positive mental health and quality of life.
Technological advancements such as human-interactive robots can provide older adults with psychological and social enrichment while stimulating their minds. These robots can provide entertainment, render assistance, guide, educate, enable communication and provide therapy to improve cognitive function. While these robots will never replace the expertise and compassion of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, they can serve as a supplement to a therapist’s care in treating older people with cognitive impairments, autism and dementia.
Technology can also help older people live independently for longer by supporting preventive care and responding to emerging issues in a timely manner. For example, automated dispensers and pillboxes can remind elderly individuals with mental health issues to take their medication to improve treatment success. These devices may also reduce medical expenses, visits from home care workers or clinicians and hospital readmissions.
Modernizes mental healthcare delivery
Technology is becoming an essential propeller for modernizing mental healthcare delivery as global systems work toward enhanced client care programs. Although technology cannot wholly replace essential aspects of brick-and-mortar resources, mental healthcare technologies such as telehealth have made the mental healthcare journey feel less stigmatizing by engaging individuals in locations where they are most comfortable.
Conversely, this makes it easier for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners to create hyper-targeted, personalized health and mental wellness plans that consider the client’s strengths and weaknesses. By modernizing mental healthcare, industry leaders can drive change in care delivery, employ progressive approaches and optimize resources available to preserve the population’s mental health.
Modernizing healthcare delivery systems empowers mental health nurse practitioners to provide efficient and reliable medical services to patients and address underlying community health issues. It is worth noting that technology’s impact on mental healthcare delivery goes beyond treating patients and responding to mental illnesses. By implementing technology into mental healthcare delivery, mental healthcare leaders can diagnose and treat complex conditions in their specialization areas and handle clients who require care beyond the scope of primary mental healthcare.
Technology continues to shape mental healthcare’s future by enabling more precise treatments, improved communication between psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners and patients and enabling faster diagnoses. Mental healthcare nurses must take advantage of technological advancements to deliver and achieve desirable treatment outcomes.