By Tori Utley
Here are some of the top four companies working on technology to improve mental health for many people this year.
Mental health innovation is long overdue. With telemedicine technologies booming in the health care sector, mental health technology has been lagging behind. The unique nature of mental health services can make it difficult to develop technology that successfully intervenes in human behavior and actually creates measurable, positive outcomes. However, with advancing research and awareness geared towards mental health issues, more companies are innovating in this space than ever before. Emerging trends in recent years have the potential to completely change the health care environment for those struggling with mental health conditions.
Of the many new companies developing technology to creatively provide solutions to treat mental health issues and promote mental health wellness, here are four to watch in 2016:
This mobile app is a self-help resource for anxiety, the most predominant mental health diagnoses in the United States. Innovation in the treatment and long-term care of anxiety is vital. As more people are living with and trying to manage their anxiety, apps like Pacifica can help them live healthier lives by using therapeutic technology through a mobile app. Pacifica incorporates principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation and wellness to break the cycle of anxiety, as well as helping users achieve real results to combat anxiety and improve wellness. By breaking unhealthy thought-feeling-action cycles through engaging users with relaxation tips and goal setting, this innovative app is one to watch as it helps users combat their anxiety.
Every year, over 23 million Americans struggle with substance abuse. Additionally, over 23 million are reported to be in recovery from addiction. Enter pala-linq, the on-the-go mobile app with wearable and Web components that provide support to those recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. By tracking mind, body and spiritual activity levels, pala-linq’s technology will keep users close to their support network and on track with recovery goals to prevent relapse. In his popular TED talk, journalist and advocate to end the war on drugs, Johann Hari concludes that the opposite of addiction is connection. Pala-linq will help do just that – leverage technology to keep users connected to their support system, their goals and their overall recovery plan through promoting holistic recovery principles with complementary technology. Now approaching beta-testing, this company is one to watch in 2016.
What if there was a wearable device that could detect your mood without the need for manual entry on an app? And yes – it’s more advanced than a mood ring. Spire is the wearable technology that can detect emotions, breathing patterns and other physiological signs that signal how users are feeling. Once emotion is detected, this device will send a notification to your phone with suggestions on how to relax or other wellness tips needed to improve your mood. Clip it to your belt or bra and this device can help you decrease your stress level by up to 50%. Chronic stress can impact the immune system and lead to abnormal functioning of your digestive, excretory and reproductive systems – technology like Spire can not only help users be more relaxed, but also become healthier overall.
Fisher Wallace Stimulator
Yet another innovative device changing the mental health game is the Fisher Wallace Simulator, an FDA-approved neurostimulation device to help treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. Based on a recent pilot study at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, this device may also help treat bipolar depression. By gently stimulating the brain, the headband-like device that you place over your temples stimulates the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, which reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness. Although you need a provider to approve your use, the Fisher Wallace Stimulator makes it possible to sit at home, sip a cup of coffee and engage in neurostimulation therapy. This can help patients to be naturally treated with results along the same lines as many long-term benefits of antidepressant treatments.