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July 9, 2020

The Adoption of Digital Mental Health Interventions

By Gillian Drukmaler | Intern

If you are reading this, it’s likely that you know at least one family member, friend, colleague, or acquaintance who has suffered or is suffering from mental illness. Or, that person may very well be yourself. There is no escaping mental illness, it hits very close to home for so many of us. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 4 people are affected by mental disorders at some point in their life. Think about the gravity of that number. And then think about the accessibility and availability there is to mental health resources. It has been noted that mental healthcare in Ontario is underfunded by $1.5 billion.  

Mental Health During COVID-19 

As we live through a global pandemic, there has been a spike in individuals who are dealing with mental illness. In addition, there have been multiple controversies in the media surrounding the treatment of mental health patients and crises. Individuals are unable to have in-person appointments at this time and often do not know where else to turn. This only puts individuals at higher risk of reaching a state of mental crisis. Therefore, the uptake and use of digital tools to treat mental illness is crucial and has the potential to have a profound positive impact in the overall well-being of mental health patients.  

As much progress as we have made in reducing the stigma that surrounds mental illness there is still a way to go in the treatment and level of care that mental health patients receive. In recent years, there has been a rapid transition towards the use of digital healthcare interventions for many levels of patient care. While this is significant in many ways- it is also important that digital healthcare companies and healthcare innovators create this same space for digital mental health interventions.  

Digital Mental Health in Practice 

At MEMOTEXT, we strive to improve patient outcomes across many domains, but one of specific importance is in the mental health space. We are happy to be working in a joint venture with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to develop a digital application for patients with schizophrenia and other psychoses. Application4Independence (A4i) addresses the complexity of support, isolation and relapse risk along the schizophrenia care continuum. A4i is an evidence-based, digital therapeutic  intervention (mobile app and clinician dashboard) with a regulatory pathway and patent pending feature. A4i supports recovery, care coordination and community functioning while using machine learning  to identify relapse risk for complex behavioural health. 

We have also been working with key stakeholders throughout the pandemic to perform check-in and triage programming for patient and employee populations using IVR and SMS technology. This gives us and our clients the opportunity to check-in regarding COVID-19 risk and follow up on the mental well-being of patients and employees. From there, we can provide necessary recommendations and educational information based off of the responses received. By doing so, we are able to support individual’s mental health and ensure they get access to resources as they need it. This also offers an opportunity to promote available EAP benefits and some traceability into efforts on support and safety

Ultimately, mental health requires significant attention and we need to continue to do our part in supporting populations suffering from mental health disorders.  

Photo by: dreamstime.com