The rise of technology has had numerous impactful changes in almost every industry. One example is within the field of social work. It may come as somewhat of a surprise that a field dominated by one-on-one communication has been so heavily influenced by tech, but technology has significantly altered the field for the better.
Building Awareness of Mental Health Issues
Arguably the most profound impact technology has had on social work is through building awareness of mental health issues within our society. Mental health has regularly been downtrodden or considered a lesser form of health services. Those that were suffering from mental health issues were seen as weak or whiney. Every year nearly 8 million people go without treatment because of these stigmas.
Thankfully, technology has made it far easier to communicate the seriousness of mental health and has begun to change these harmful perceptions. Organizations such as Mental Health America have used technology as a means of spreading knowledge about mental health conditions that is changing the way we view them. Additionally, social media platforms have made sharing information on mental health conditions much easier and less intrusive.
Getting Mental Health Services
Technology has also made a substantial difference in helping those struggling with mental health issues, and their loved ones, find the help and support they need. Rather than word of mouth or searching the yellow pages, someone looking for help with their mental health can search the internet to find a counselor near them and schedule an appointment. This simple tech solution can save hours of stress and conserve more confidentiality for those concerned about the mental health status.
Furthermore, a number of mental health applications for smart phones have become available. These phones apps range from those that play relaxation music to calm people down to those that enable users to track their mood swings. Some of the tracking-based applications in particular are beneficial to those already seeing a therapist in that they are able to save and share a timeline of their emotions with professionals during face to face meetings.
Helping Patients Around the Clock
Many of these smartphone apps and social media platforms have made it possible for people in need to get help around the clock. Social work professionals have taken advantage of social media to befriend their patients and become a resource to them whenever necessary. Using social media can also help professionals work with their clients in an online space that they use frequently, which can make treatment more of an integrated process.
Even individuals that are not seeing a therapist for mental health issues have been able to receive mental health support as needed with new technology. Smartphone apps such as Talkspace enable users to communicate with over 200 certified counselors; with a subscription they are a assigned to a specific counselor to talk with whenever. Talkspace also has a website for individuals that don’t have smartphone access.
Technology has played a profound role in revolutionizing the field of social work. Its use has brought about greater understanding and support of people battling mental health conditions. Furthermore, new apps and other developments have made it possible for those concerned about their mental health to reach out and find support more easily and any time of the day. These changes have been pivotal, and it will be exciting to see where tech takes the field next.
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