Tech and Mental Health

Mental health technology is on a tear. It seems every time we look around there is a new app or program aimed at mental health needs.  It’s exciting to see technology added to traditional mental health care treatments and professional training, as tech can bring greater access, mobility and potentially, better outcomes.

Recently, we ran across podcasts that caught our attention for the approach they take, and we’ve been supporting our colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as they’ve produced the “Hard Call” podcast.

First, a few podcasts that address a specific and under-served population – racial and ethnic minorities in America.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that more than 6.8 million African Americans had a diagnosable mental illness in 2014.  That is more people than the populations of Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia combined.  Yet research also documents widespread stigma around mental illness, particularly in the African American community.

                                                                        Courtesy: Redefine Enough

There also is, according to SAMHSA, a significant shortfall of racial and ethnic minority mental health providers to meet the community needs.  And, there is a “pressing need for a higher level of cultural competency of all mental and behavioral health professionals, regardless of their race.”

The SAMHSA commissioned Annapolis Coalition calls the status quo a “crisis point” for communities of color.  That’s why the post from Redefine Enough called “5 mental health podcasts by therapists of color” — as shared by friends on Facebook – caught our eye.

While we can’t endorse any of these podcasts, we are heartened to see therapists using technology to address community needs.  If these make mental health issues less daunting for people, and perhaps even lead those in need to find a clinician, we say “Bravo.”

And speaking of “Bravos,” we want to give a shout out to Dr. Matt Wynia and his team at the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities for launching their Hard Call podcast, “Derailed: When Mental Illness Throws a Life Off Track.”

It has everything you’d need in a good serial podcast:  money, love, success, secrecy…and mental illness.

The true story lets listeners make the hard calls that everyone in this patient’s life had to make.  It’s an eye-opening experience that touches both the mind and heart of the listener.

No question, mental health tech is on a tear. These podcasts are just a few examples.  It’s all cause for excitement as well as caution because not all mental health tech products are of the same quality, nor are all based on sound research and evidence-based guidelines.

Technology in mental health is a core focus of the National Behavioral Health Innovation Center. We’re poised at the intersections of tech, academic research and patient care centers, with a mission to address the needs of healthcare providers to ensure tech is done right, as well as address the needs of the tech industry to move fast.

Share this Post




Leave a Reply