The importance of interpersonal connection in mental health treatment doesn’t need to be argued. We need another person to get support and encouragement for new skills development; we need to feel accepted and loved before we can heal an old trauma; we need someone who would give us a hope in overcoming depression and other mental health issues.
But what if depression, low self-esteem, embarrassment, fear or social anxiety are in the way of connecting to others? In most of these cases, people prefer to isolate without asking for help or they stay away from making progress in their recovery.
Technology has opened a new era in mental health support. There are multiple web-based and phone applications which allow you to not only get information about your diagnosis, symptoms and medication side effects, they help you to monitor and manage your mood, improve your memory, develop critical thinking. They improve your time management and communication skills, they provide opportunities for budgeting money and even allow you to virtually travel to the country of your dream.
Along with the direct benefits of computer and phone-based applications, it was noticed that technology has a lot of indirect positive effects. The latest example is the game “Pokemon Go” which according to self-reports, has an unexpected improvement in depression and anxiety. The game makes people leave their houses and go out, which is not easy for people struggling with depression. Evidence-based practice shows that web-based and computer applications help people to stay focused and engaged which has been a real obstacle in mental health treatment. They increase motivation and stimulate self-directed activities.
Being aware and excited about multiple opportunities that technology offers to the mental health field, we are implementing new approaches and methods in the group treatment modality in our PROS program. Our members work on computer projects creating wellness tools for themselves to manage uncomfortable feelings. Group participants develop daily living skills, while expanding their knowledge about resources available in the community working with web-based applications. We are looking forward to exploring other technologies and applying them in our practice to help people with rebuilding their lives for a more satisfactory and productive future
Tatyana Yelizarova, PhD
Professional Clinician, PROS