The future of mental health care
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change our customs and ways of living.
We went from a situation in which not all stores in all countries had a POS terminal, to the need to have one to limit the use of cash and the transmission of the virus; from companies opposed to home office, who were forced to implement it so that their employees could continue working during the pandemic.
Although digitization and technologies have been developing for decades, it seems that the pandemic that affected us accelerated this process and now the digital world is seen as a necessity rather than an option.
In the mental health sector, the development of ICTs (information and communication technologies) such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), allowed an important advance in the way of doing therapy.
Virtual Reality in the future of medicine
Thanks to VR immersion (quality of multisensory stimulation) and interaction the person feels physically inside virtual environments.
Virtual reality allows the therapist to apply the techniques of exposure, systematic desensitization, diaphragmatic breathing, muscle relaxation, visualization/imagery, mindfulness and EMDR without the need to use imagination or leave the therapist’s office for in vivo exposure.
This greatly reduces the effort on the part of the patient, increases her predisposition to therapy and improves therapeutic adherence.
Likewise, virtual reality environments allow you to set different variables in order to control and adapt the intervention to the needs of the patient, and also allows you to repeat certain conditions as many times as necessary to work on a therapeutic goal.
Like in vivo exposure techniques, virtual reality exposure has proven to be more effective than imagination, and allows the therapist to treat more patients and in less time.
The growth of Telehealth
However, the greatest change in the way of offering therapy came with the need to guarantee service during the COVID pandemic.
“Teletherapy” means providing care digitally, through video conferences or calls. Introduced 20 years ago, it has grown side by side with technological innovation and mental health stigma reduction.
Scientific research shows that although many patients are initially more comfortable with face-to-face interaction, the therapeutic alliance can be developed and maintained through teletherapy.
The future of care in the mental health sector foresees the use of technologies that simplify the professional’s work to allow them to achieve greater results in less time.
One of the main components of our VIRTUALTIMES project is virtual reality; and thanks to the accelerated advance that this technology has had in recent years, the health care is going to be able to cover new areas that, perhaps, were previously unimaginable. And we will keep you posted on all project progress through this blog.