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How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing Mental Healthcare

Science fiction author William Gibson has been attributed as saying, 

“The future is already here, the fact is it’s not just very evenly distributed.”. 

Revolutionary artificial intelligence algorithms are creeping into mental healthcare and are reshaping its dimensions. You might already be discussing with an AI bot right now that “how does it make you feel to hear that?” Your AI therapist might be successful enough to take you out from the feeling of worry about what direction the future will take with the advent of artificial intelligence. In case, looking beyond the horrifying headlines of Skynet coming true, the progressive utilization of artificial intelligence in mental healthcare is absolutely splendid news for many of us. 

Depression is a global problem with serious consequences. Almost 1 out of 5 Americans deal with mental health conditions at some point in their lives. Yet, in numerous cases, we are relying on individuals to seek treatment, despite the continuing stigma against asking for health for mental health struggles. Almost 40% of the world’s population lives in such areas where there are not enough mental healthcare professionals to meet the requirements of the community. Currently, we are facing a severe mental health crisis aggravated by the pandemic outbreak.

Thanks to the rapid technological innovations and advancements, AI algorithms are capable of spearheading a positive transformation in the space that has been a long journey for change. Here is the list of five optimistic ways artificial intelligence and its innovative algorithms are revolutionizing mental healthcare in the best way possible. 

#1  Helping to Characterize Mental Health Issues 

Making mental health treatment and diagnosis less subjective and more quantifiable helps to destigmatize such conditions and enhance outcomes. No blood test is required for mental health conditions. Artificial intelligence and promising machine learning algorithms prove to be equivalent research-based objective tests that make the requirement to seek treatment more about evidence-based data along with best medical practices, and less about the patient's subjective experience of distress. 

Democratizing access to mental health treatment will certainly mainstream this kind of healthcare. The more people who seek treatment for mental health issues or know someone suffering from mental health struggles, the less mental health treatment will feel like a secret or a shame. 

#2   Making Support Available Anytime Anywhere

Mobile devices are in the hands of literally every individual. Applications and chatbots are accessible to everyone no matter where they are. Undoubtedly, that’s the most affordable treatment option.   They are always awake and on-call. According to researchers and analysts, most people feel comfortable sharing their feelings with an anonymous chatbot as compared to a human being.  

Obviously, such tools are still new and experimental. There would be no wrong in saying that chatbots and other existing app-based tools for tracking and enhancing mood prove to be tremendously beneficial mainly for those patients who usually struggle to access care. There already exists a wide range of mobile-based tools that make patients walk through exercises based on cognitive behavioral therapy and other research-based techniques. Hence chatbots are lifelines for those who are suffering from depression and anxiety in the middle of the night. 

#3   Flagging Early Warning Signs of Dangerous Troubles 

Just think what would it be like if your smartphones were smart enough to notify your doctor that you are at risk of depression based on how often you leave your house or how fast you are typing. According to a certain study, language analysis algorithms were 100% accurate at identifying teens who were likely to develop psychosis. Such tools already exist and without a doubt, they are really very powerful. 

Language analysis is utilized to monitor patients who are going through certain treatments and warn doctors when they take a turn for the worse. Most patients do not visit their doctor or therapist regularly, but answering a few questions online on a day-to-day basis helps the app to detect early signs of trouble. AI tools provide invaluable support to human providers and patients, establishing daily checkpoints that can catch a downturn before it turns into a serious spiral.

#4   Reducing Bias and Human Error 

Artificial intelligence algorithms have proven to be successful at detecting signs of certain conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder with the analysis of facial expressions and voice patterns. Physical and mental health providers are utilizing such AI-powered tools to serve as a backup during the meeting with patients. These meetings are usually very brief. 

Such tools are beneficial when healthcare providers, who are usually rushing from appointment to appointment, may not notice what signs of trouble the patient exhibits. Moreover, AI tools help in reminding a busy healthcare physician to push past that surface-level appearance and dive into those problems that are not acute yet. 

#5   Integrating Mental Health Care with Physical Healthcare

Can you think of a future where machine learning algorithms can warn surgeons and doctors that a patient is at risk based on its existing medical record?  According to one study, it is successfully predicted that which of the patients who were brought into the hospital because of self-injuries will likely give a suicidal attempt anytime soon. 

For instance, when it boils down to the opioid crisis, according to data, 10% of the patients who use opioids for the next 90 days after their surgery will continue to depend on those medications. That patient could be referred to the therapist who is a medication tapering specialist so that patients can widen the array of techniques they utilize to manage their pain and other symptoms. 

Health is the Greatest Wealth 

Mental health plays a pivotal role in our lives. Anxiety, depression, and stress are caused when people prefer to please others instead of pleasing themselves. The biggest stigma with mental health is most people still don’t talk or fear to talk about it, although it’s a great wealth. 

People fear that AI bots will soon replace human therapists, but that’s not true. Instead, artificial intelligence will support human therapists. AI can serve as an early warning system providing support all day every day. It can offer lifelines to those who live in rural areas where mental health support is difficult to find. It can also prove to be beneficial for those who cannot afford to visit therapists regularly. Without a doubt, mental healthcare is an enormous challenge in our society, and the COVID-19 outbreak is the only increasing support to this challenge.  

At the heart of it all, artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize mental healthcare, making care more affordable, responsive, and accessible. In the approaching years, AI algorithms will be our first line of defense against mental health struggles that can be deliberating for a tremendous amount of people.  

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