Helpful Tools to Commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week

Using Technology to Support People with Mental Illness 

By Dave Wither, Member, NCPD Council on Mental Illness 
Just as we seek the peace of Jesus, we all seek the comfort and warmth that a gentle touch of another human being provides.  Nothing can ever replace the power our humanity transcends as we touch, care for,and pray for the people we love and those Christ has asked us to nurture and protect.  However, today we live in a time of unprecedented change; change at a pace we have never before known, and a pace that will only accelerate.  Our challenge is to find the good [and opportunities] within these changes and use them to improve the lives of those Jesus has entrusted to us.  Today our world is exploding with new “wearable” medical technology.  These technologies (devices, smartphones, software/apps) have opened a new frontier in mental health treatment, patient support and data collection.  
The ability to connect to people who need support via mobile devices and wireless networks is driving the development of new products and service that give caregivers, the public, doctors, and researchers new ways to monitor and treat patients as well as understand how the condition impacts the individual.  The new tools and information can (will) improve mental wellbeing and the quality of life for the individual who is treated and supported via the new services. 


The challenge is that we have many new frontiers from which we can treat and support individuals with mental illness.  We need to see the opportunities to really improve the quality of life for people who suffer, and in some cases, save their lives.  For example, advances are being made with software that can identify individuals who are at risk of a psychiatric emergency by what they post on social mediaThe true paradigm shift is that we can take care of people 24/7 in ways never before possible.  By using “connected” sensors which continually monitor basic biological factors (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature etc.) caregivers and medical professional can know ifan individual is approaching a critical level and intervene before a crisis occurs.  On a daily basis the information collected, stored and analyzed by the app empowers the individual to have a new level of control over their life. 
We are at a new frontier. Individuals who do not have access to mental health care providers or who do not want to walk into a doctor’s office will have new options and access to life changing services at sites such as Get.Talkspace. We all must do our homework and investigate these new products and services to ensure that the right choices are made and safeguards put in place.   

These new technologies are gifts from God that can end suffering, save lives and empower individuals to improve the quality of their lives.  We need to pray for guidance to embrace the present as we let go of the past and ensure that these gifts and services are available to all people regardless of their ability to pay. 

Below are a list of sites and resources that demonstrate this growing field [Note from editor: The  listing of the websites below does not connote the endorsement or efficacy of any of these products or services]: 

Other Helpful Links: