(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Mental health advocacy has taken center stage in recent years, with a new emphasis that has allowed the deployment of new tools, technologies, and therapeutic interventions. The continuum of the digital wave has meant that these tools were here to address these mental health issues, and Covid-19 has been a case in point.
What Is Digital Mental Health?
Digital mental health refers to the use of technologies such as computers, mobiles, wearables, and Internet-connected devices to provide mental health services that include assessments, diagnosis, treatment, promotion, and consultation. Digital mental health tools come in many forms, but irrespective of form, all digital mental health tools ensure ease of access to mental health services in situations where access would be otherwise scarce.
The Need for Digital Mental Health Tools
Mental disorders are common around the world. Globally, it has been estimated that 25 percent of adults and 10 percent of children are likely to be affected by mental health problems every year. The prevalence of mental disorders among children under 19 years old in North Africa and Middle East is the highest in the world (greater than 12 percent).
While there is an increase in the demand for mental health services in developing countries, a shortage of mental health workers runs in parallel. For instance, there are 6.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in high-income countries and 0.1 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in low-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, mental health services are not accessible to nearly 85 percent of people in developing countries, compared to 55 percent in high-income countries. In many regions around the world, mental health is also associated with various stigmas, with the vast majority of sufferers unwilling to speak to professionals. Access to help in a digital format allows anonymity and around-the-clock access to care in the comfort of one’s home.