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On a global scale, it is pertinent to mention that 1 in every 8 people have experienced, or are living with a mental disorder. Mental disorders are clinically prominent disturbances in the cognition of individuals, their emotional regulation, or their behaviour. There are numerous mental health conditions and disorders.

A study conducted for over 10,000 households back in December 2020, that went on until July 2021 showed that out of Australians aged between 16 and 85, approximately 8.6 million of them [accounting for 44% of the population] had lived through a mental disorder at some point in their lives, while 4.2 million [accounting for 21% of the population] had been through or were going through a mental disorder in the last 12 months.

The waves of technology have turned the world into an endless cycle of progress. One such cog in the machine of the latest developments in technology has been digital tools for the purpose of aiding individuals in their battles with their mental health.

Some examples of digital mental health tools are wellness facilities that are direct-to-consumer, like computer software’s and more commonly- phone apps. These are considered revolutionary, as psychologists witness the increase in the usage of these tools bridge a gap in the mental health journey that they otherwise would not have been able to achieve.

In such a fast-paced world, it is difficult to find the time or space to take a break, and simply breathe. Focusing on our mental health, and personal wellbeing is generally low on our list of priorities, with work and education taking up most of our energy and time. However, with e-therapy and the vast range of digital tools to choose from, taking a little time to focus on ourselves has become a little easier.

In this article, Medfuture discusses how psychologists in Australia utilise freely accessible digital tools in their practice, with their patients.

E-therapy is offered via counselling sessions, seminars, online learning tools, and a range of checklists that are meant to be accessed in your own time.

Australian Psychologists and Digital Mental Health

During Covid-19, there was an influx in the use of digital tools in every aspect of our lives, let alone simply with mental health. While digital tools for mental health existed pre-Covid, it increased in its popularity ranks during, as people had no other alternative to receiving their services.

Although some psychologists, as well as patients, found the use of technology challenging to deal with, everyone had to acknowledge the convenience of having an alternative to physical face-to-face therapy sessions, especially when the very same transaction could be made, face-to-face, from the comfort of each of their homes.

Australian psychologists discussed how one of the biggest benefits with the digital health and telehealth revolution was the accessibility and flexibility of the concept. For those living in rural and remote areas, who may have otherwise never been able to receive the right quality of help that they were looking for, this technology provided them with the opportunity to access the mental health support they required.

Psychologists also mentioned how a lot of participants had a preference for accessing support through the digital tools that were becoming more easily accessible to them. Therefore, they appreciated how their clients had options regarding what worked best for them.

One of the downsides of predominantly digital mental health tools being utilised, however, is the lack of personalisation that concerns some psychologists. While some digital tools facilitate face-to-face therapy sessions between clients and their doctors, other apps remove the second party from the mix, and conversations and assistance are provided simply through the understanding of the person by the app as a whole. Psychologists believe that a complete transformation from face-to-face sessions could not just be ineffective, but also dangerous for those treading on sensitive issues- patients suffering with depression might be fed with wrong, or insufficient empathy during their digital sessions, potentially worsening the situation rather than assisting with it.

However, past research has shown that patients have been happier with the implementation of digital health tools, rather than distressed by it, as they considered it to be an additional, and more accessible facility along with their usual face-to-face sessions.

Some of the aspects they consider are:

Is the tool engaging enough, and is it user-friendly?

This is important, considering that despite the fact that the world we live in is transforming into an entirely technological one, a large group of individuals are still not comfortable with this change, and need time to adjust. Therefore, psychologists take measures to ensure that all users can gain maximum benefit from accessing it.

By clinical and medical standards, is the content safe?

Psychologists must only recommend services that come from sources and service owners that they are aware of. Before they recommend it to others, they ensure that they have a sufficient level of understanding of how the content was developed, and by whom, so they can determine its reliability, and rule out whether or not there are elements of the tool that could do their client’s harm. If clients are referred to professionals via the digital software or app, the psychologists ensure that they have the required qualifications for the services being provided, and that clients have the ability to self-assess, and on doing so, find further assistance.

Is it secure and does it protect its users’ privacy?

Psychologists ensure that the site is secure, and not a technological tool that takes advantage of user data. The tool needs to have a privacy clause that confirms that the information being provided by users will remain with them, and not be shared with or sold to third parties.

While we understand the benefits that clients gain from digital tools, there are a number of benefits to psychologists themselves:

By recommending digital tools to the clients such as smartphone apps, and other wearable devices, psychologists are able to gain insights into the daily movements and health status of their clients, to give them further understanding into their lifestyle. This is termed “Digital Phenotyping”, used by researchers in assisting them to better their diagnostic processes and personal treatment plans. This can be used to treat issues such as mood and sleep disorders, addiction, and facilitate suicide prevention.

On receiving the information that they need; the psychologists are able to use this to start off their discussions and analyses. They talk to their clients through the situation and circumstances, and discuss the discrepancies in the data they have received. For example, a prolonged period of time where the individual may not have experienced much movement or activity, could indicate that they were experiencing temporary dissociation or depression. To add to that, by measuring the communication levels of their social app usage, psychologists are able to identify their willingness and ability to communicate and interact with other people.

Free E-mental health resources and tools include Webinars and videos, online courses. Podcasts, video conferencing tools, internet messaging hotlines specifically for mental care, and mobile apps and software’s that allow you to do quizzes and track your movements to determine what issues you may potentially be facing. These software’s generally also provide you with treatment plans and suggestions for improving your conditions, enabling a more inclusive and accurate representation of statistics of an individual’s day to day life, ultimately leaving psychologists with a better idea of what the client is going through to give them the best possible diagnoses.

Social awareness regarding the maintenance of mental health has expansively spread on a global scale. However, people are struggling to maintain a balance with the demands of work and life, to keep themselves financially stable in the current economy, while also ensuring that they are mentally and physically fit. This is where advancements in technology come into play to create an alternative, easier facility for not just the users, but also the doctors, allowing for an overall better quality of life.

Obtain jobs through Medfuture!

Medfuture is a reputed healthcare recruitment agency and medical firm that connects qualified professionals on a global scale. If you are a psychologist, looking for your pathway to Australia, Medfuture can facilitate what works best for you. For more information on open vacancies in healthcare administration, visit the Medfuture job board.

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