18 Jul Using Technology to Deliver Mental Health Services to Children
There are few areas in our life that were not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many losses and disruptions to our day-to-day routines. But with those negative aspects, positive change can develop through crisis. The shift to connecting through technology exploded during the pandemic, and while mental health services in the traditional sense were halted, there were major advancements made in the use of technology to connect with those needing mental health care. But with so much hype about how bad too much screen time can be for kids, how can technology benefit their mental health?
Among the greatest impacted by the pandemic were children and adolescents. The loss of face-to-face education, limited social interaction, the negative impact on families created greater need for mental health services in our young people. There is no need to convince this tech savvy generation that the delivery of services such as virtual counseling or apps for wellness are easily accessible, feel safe and comfortable and most importantly…are effective. Young people are more likely to engage with a resource that is virtual, removing the anxiety that may arise from managing mental health symptoms in a more traditional way. ABC News reported that in 2019 teens spent an average of 7 hours on their phones and kids ages 8-12 about 4 hours a day. This suggests that by offering an engaging, accessible resource to a device they use regularly, there is a greater chance it will be influential.
With children’s comfort level with technology, there is improved ability to engage them in learning methods to better manage their mental health. Online resources, such as apps for computers, tablets and phones can be fun and engaging, keeping their attention longer and promoting the likelihood they will retain what they learn.
Kids are busy these days! With the return to more normal routines, accessing mental health care is a challenge. Between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends there is little time for much else. The flexibility of accessing online mental health care resources allows young people the means to access these when it is convenient for them.
Using technology to help children gain access to mental health care can aid in reducing the stigma around getting help, opening up the opportunity for parents to talk to their child about what they are learning from online resources. Early development of effective mood management skills, learning to understand the relationship between thoughts and feelings, and learning to talk about feelings will promote better mental health in their teens and young adulthood. The Psychiatric Times reports that three quarters of mental health disorders develop before the age of 25, making this a pivotal age to arm our children with the tools and skills to live a healthy life.
At On Second Thought we offer online cognitive behavioral programming designed to teach children about the connection between their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. With virtual mental health resources being accessible, comfortable and convenient, there is strong support that using technology to reach children and promote skills for good mental health is effective.