Could Health Care Technology Help Solve the Children’s Mental Health Crisis?

In the UK, staggering numbers of young people have been admitted to hospital because of mental health problems.

Between 2015 and 2016, there was a 42 per cent increase in the number of young people admitted to hospital suffering from anxiety.

While technology has been blamed for the increase in anxiety among young people, some are arguing that technology could also be the cure.

Encouraging young people to ditch their image sharing apps in favor of mindfulness apps could be the way forward for many parents and carers.

Health care apps offer a low cost alternative to traditional therapies. They are convenient and readily available, and can offer a more attractive option for young people.

Here are three ways that health care technology could transform the way we identify and treat mental health problems in young people…

Assist with Self Management

For those individuals who have already identified that there is a problem, health care technology offers a way to self-monitor their mental health and look for ways to improve it.

Complementary devices and apps such as fitness trackers can also create a more interesting way to treat mental health problems.

Many fitness trackers are also capable of tracking sleep, and this is an important factor in diagnosing mental health problems.

When used responsibly, a simple app could help give a young person the help they need to overcome mental health problems on a native platform.

Gather Data for Research

One of the biggest problems health care providers face when dealing with mental health problems is a lack of information.

Data is very valuable when it comes to making top level decisions about how problems should be handled. Self-management apps can help to identify warning signs of mental health problems.

It has already been suggested that a person’s Facebook activity could shine a light on their mental health.

The increased adoption of mental wellbeing apps could help to gather data and, as a result, focus attention and attract more funding to research mental health problems.

Illness Management

Managing an illness as a young person is incredibly difficult.

Healthcare technology can help to take the grunt work out of managing an illness by offering reminders to take medication or keeping track of symptoms.

This could be life-changing for children in turbulent circumstances and those who care for them. If you foster a child (source), for example, the added pressure of ensuring they stay on track with their treatment could mean the difference between a carer accepting a placement and turning them away.

Health care technology can help to empower young people to manage their own condition and give parents and carers the reassurance that the child is on-track.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to an event that threatens or causes harm.

The harm can be physical or emotional, real or perceived, and it can threaten the child or someone close to them. It can be the result of a single event, or it can result from exposure to a harmful situation over weeks, months or years.

Potentially traumatic events your foster child may have experienced include:

  • Abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional)
  • Neglect
  • Effects of poverty (such as being homeless or not having enough to eat)
  • Being separated from family loved ones
  • Bullying
  • Witnessing harm to a loved one or pet in domestic or community violence
  • Unpredictable parental behavior due to mental illness or addiction

For many children in the care system, simply being in the child welfare system becomes a traumatic event in itself.

This is true of the child’s first separation from their home and family, past placements that have gone wrong, and abandonment issues.

It’s best to avoid asking the child directly why they are doing what they are doing.

It’s likely if they could put those feelings into words then they would not need to resort to smearing in the first place. It is also very important that you remember that this behavior is not a deliberate act of defiance.

To the child it can be them making sense of what happened to them in the past and express their unhappiness in what has happened to them, not as a reaction to them for where they are now.

The benefits are clearly abundant, but healthcare technology is not without its flaws. One of the biggest problems the industry faces is a lack of peer review.

Anyone can develop and app and market it as a mental health app, which is clearly something that needs addressing.

As more local authorities and government bodies recognize the importance of healthcare technology, this will hopefully close the gap between existing treatments and the high tech counterparts.

Author Bio

Alice Porter is a freelance writer and research, who works closely with a number of charities and organisations to raise awareness for healthcare for the vulnerable in society.

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