Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th, aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, advocate for better care, and destigmatize mental disorders. Established by the World Health Organization, this day encourages global discussions, educates the public, and highlights the significance of mental well-being for individuals and communities.
As the tech industry continues to evolve, the mental wellbeing of its professionals should be a priority. Roughly, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental health condition. Mental health apps, while not a replacement for professional therapy, can be an effective supplementary tool in promoting wellbeing and resilience in this challenging environment.
Mental health apps can be especially beneficial in this context for several reasons:
- Digital Therapeutic (DTx) Apps: These leverage technology to deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients, often to prevent, manage, or treat medical disorders or diseases. Continuous monitoring and feedback mechanisms in DTx apps enable users and healthcare providers to track progress, adjust treatments, and achieve better outcomes.
- Accessibility & Convenience: With smartphones being an integral part of the tech lifestyle, mental health apps provide instant access to resources, tools, and therapeutic strategies without the need for physical appointments or waiting times.
- Anonymity & Privacy: Many professionals in the tech industry might hesitate to seek face-to-face counseling due to the fear of stigma or concerns about confidentiality. Apps provide a private platform where individuals can explore their feelings, monitor their moods, and access resources without judgment.
- Cost-Effective: In comparison to traditional therapy, which can be expensive, many mental health apps are available for free or at a lower cost. This makes them an affordable alternative for those who may not have insurance coverage or the financial means for traditional therapy.
- Continuous Monitoring: These apps often come with features that allow users to track their mood, stress levels, and other mental health indicators over time. This can provide valuable data that helps users understand their patterns, triggers, and progress.
- Evidence-Based Interventions: Many apps integrate evidence-based therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, and meditation practices, offering users effective strategies to manage their mental well-being.
- Variety & Personalization: With a plethora of mental health apps available, users can choose an app that aligns best with their needs, be it meditation, sleep tracking, journaling, or mood tracking. Moreover, many apps adapt to user feedback, providing a personalized experience.
- Immediate Support in Crisis: Some apps are designed to provide immediate support in times of crisis, connecting users with helplines, emergency services, or immediate coping strategies.
- Promotion of Regular Mental Health Practices: By incorporating daily reminders or challenges, these apps can foster the habit of daily mental health practices, such as gratitude journaling or daily meditation.
- Education & Awareness: Many apps come with resources, articles, and courses that help users understand mental health better, debunking myths and promoting a culture of understanding and compassion.
- Support for Remote Workers: The tech industry has a significant number of remote workers. Mental health apps can bridge the gap for these professionals, providing them with tools and resources to manage the unique challenges of remote work, such as feelings of isolation.
- Community Support: Some apps also foster community support by connecting users with others who have similar experiences, creating a virtual support group.
- Promoting Work-Life Balance: Some apps are designed to encourage breaks, relaxation techniques, and healthy work habits, particularly important in the tech industry where long hours and high stress are common.
- Reducing Employer Healthcare Costs: When used as part of an organizational well-being program, mental health apps can lead to better mental health outcomes for employees, potentially reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity, and lowering healthcare costs related to mental health issues.
Jan Iverson is Head of Studio at FS Studio and an award-winning product leader with over 20-years of extensive experience in digital media and marketing, with a specialization in the design and development of AR, VR and 3D activations: mobile apps, games, LBE, sales tools, digital twins; with XR cross-platform content development, and a track record of success in leading award-winning digital creative teams. Virtually Human is her bi-weekly series.