The inclusions and use of technological advancements in mental healthcare make health services more accessible, say experts.
As Mental Health Awareness Month of May is marked globally, healthcare professionals and experts, while shedding light on the latest technological advancements in mental healthcare, say that technology supports individuals in navigating the challenges of anxiety.
Nesma Luqman, Clinical Psychologist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre
The Priory Wellbeing Centre in Abu Dhabi, renowned for its expertise in mental health, has emphasised the significance of incorporating technology into the fast-paced hospital environment. Nesma Luqman, a Clinical Psychologist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre, stated, "Technological advancements such as teletherapy, mental health apps, wearable technology, and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning are transforming mental health care for healthcare professionals in high-risk settings.”
She said telepsychiatry enables remote psychiatric care through video conferencing, allowing healthcare staff to receive support despite their demanding schedules.
“Mental health apps offer resources for stress management and mindfulness, designed specifically to cater to the needs of healthcare professionals. Furthermore, wearable technology provides real-time data on indicators of stress and anxiety, enabling early intervention and prevention. AI/ML technologies analyse large datasets to personalise treatment plans based on individual requirements, enhancing patient outcomes and staff well-being,” she added.
This year's Mental Health Awareness Month focuses on anxiety, a prevalent issue affecting millions worldwide. Mohamad Naamani, a Clinical Psychologist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre, highlighted the impact of anxiety disorders, stating, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults annually. In the UAE, a study by Mahmoud and Saravanan in 2020 revealed that 56.4 per cent of the sample struggled with anxiety.”
Mohamad Naamani, Clinical Psychologist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre
He also said that the emergence of telehealth technology is revolutionising mental healthcare by providing virtual access to psychiatrists, therapists, and other mental health professionals via video conferencing or calls, enabling patients and other professionals to connect easily.
“This technology is particularly advantageous in areas where mental health professionals are scarce, as it enables access to care regardless of location. Mobile apps and online therapy platforms can also provide quick and convenient access to mental health resources and support,” he added.
The experts provided tips to help individuals manage anxiety, including deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help induce relaxation and alleviate anxiety symptoms. They also said regular exercise has been proven to improve well-being and reduce anxiety.
“Adequate sleep is crucial, as sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety symptoms. It is also important to limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can exacerbate anxiety. Practising mindfulness by staying present in the moment can aid in reducing anxiety symptoms. Maintaining social connections and seeking support from loved ones can alleviate anxiety. Professional help should be sought if anxiety symptoms interfere with daily life, as mental health professionals can provide effective tools and strategies,” said Nesma.
Nesma also stressed the importance of patience and perseverance in managing anxiety, stating, “Finding a healthy balance takes time, and it is crucial to be patient with oneself.” She encouraged individuals to seek professional help if needed, emphasising that seeking support is a sign of strength.