AI and Mental Health: 7 Ways to Improve Healthcare Industry

Despite 1 in 5 adult Americans experience mental health issues, there is still a lot of stigma around therapy. It takes 11 years on average between symptoms onset and the start of treatment. The reasons behind such neglect are versatile. Yet most often, people are just ashamed of their mental conditions or face some practical barriers, like the lack of mental health professionals and money. 40% of Americans live in areas where access to quality therapy is limited.

Modern technology and AI allow such people to get treatment. An AI system in mental health provides patients with anonymous help regardless of their location. The cost of such software is also much lower than face-to-face sessions, which attracts patients.

The increasing demand for mental health apps, in its turn, inspires healthcare vendors to invest in them. By 2027, the mental health app market is projected to reach $ 3.7 billion. It’s a profitable niche that can improve the lives of many people. The use of AI technology in mental health is a great way to help patients with anxiety, mild depression, and other issues. How do you feel? asked by an AI-powered application at the right moment saves lives. Applications also help to detect early signs of mental issues and diagnose illnesses.

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These are only some of the ways artificial intelligence and mental health applications revolutionize the healthcare industry. Find out more about the impact of artificial intelligence and mental health apps in our article. It should be useful for healthcare management teams, software vendors, and anyone interested in AI and mental health diagnosis.

AI and Mental Health: How AI is Used in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry feels a severe provider shortage in the mental health sector. According to HRSA data, 6538 practitioners are currently needed, which affects 125 million people across the US. Since the lack of practitioners is likely to remain, technology seems the only promising solution.

Artificial intelligence based on natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition, and visual perception, can substitute some routine tasks of practitioners. NLP in healthcare allows computers to decypher the latest human speech terms and text. Clinicians, especially in physiatry, have little time to interact with patients. They solve acute problems while missing everyday monitoring and staying in touch. The use of AI technology in mental health eliminates this problem. Applications communicate with patients to help them deal with everyday problems and collect data on their mental health.

Virtual assistants also process the information collected from patients to guide clinicians on the therapy and enable data-driven diagnosis. Besides, they can detect sharp changes in patients’ condition to alert doctors about possible risks. For example, AI algorithms can spot changes in the human voice, speech pace, and word choice that may point to depression, mania, or even schizophrenia. Without mental health using AI, healthcare professionals would need more time to recognize these subtle signs.

Generally, artificial intelligence is used in mental health applications in the following ways:

  • Virtual assistants
  • Drug testing functionality
  • Treatment evaluation tools
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Automated patient flow optimization
  • Predictive analytics
  • Personalized healthcare plans
  • Automated alerts in case of health risks

Given the multiple uses of artificial intelligence in mental health, you can leverage it in most mental health applications. Build virtual assistants to stay in touch with patients 24/7. Adopt AI-powered predictive analytics, to evaluate health risks. Leverage artificial intelligence for mental health medication testing if you develop software for pharmaceutical companies. The use options are unlimited since artificial intelligence revolutionizes mental healthcare in many ways. Check out the most significant of them below. 

Seven Ways in Which AI Can Transform Mental Healthcare

The use of AI technology in mental health transforms healthcare services. How AI can help mental health industries? It revolutionizes the treatment, doctor-patient relationships, and caregiving. Here are the most significant transformations resulting from mental health using AI, and healthcare technology trends.

#1. Destigmatize Mental Health Issues and Enable Everyone to Get Help

When a mental illness starts, it usually doesn’t look disturbing. Therefore, most people who seek professional assistance have already been fighting their issues for years. They have decided to ask for help only after the mental problems have become unbearable.

Artificial intelligence allows healthcare software vendors to create virtual assistants providing anonymous help. They use algorithms and machine learning to evaluate the condition of a specific person and give them support. After a talk, the patient will receive professional recommendations or advice to contact a mental health specialist in person. There is no need to go directly to a therapist from the start.

AI makes mental health virtual assistance convenient and common. Even a healthy person who has doubts or wants to check their health can use it.

#2. Provide Patients With 24/7 Support

Unlike mental health specialists, AI for mental healthcare doesn’t need to sleep or take a break from work. Hence, if patients need someone to talk to in the middle of the night, they can use AI-powered applications. Such apps can support a talk to ease the stress, bring peace of mind, and automatically analyze the voice and word choice of the person. If the application detects the risk of life-threatening situations, like a suicide attempt, it can send alerts to the mental health team that will immediately act.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, patients become more independent from therapists and can get help 24/7. It makes mental health services customer-centric and allows delegating minor mental issues to software.

#3. Flag Problems Long Before They Start

When a person uses an AI-powered application for some time, the app stores lots of data on their behavioral patterns. Hence, as soon as some important changes occur, it will flag the abnormality and inform healthcare professionals about it. Since artificial intelligence can analyze the tone of voice, speech, pauses, word choice, and other metrics to detect the slightest changes, it may be more successful in early diagnostics than mental health professionals.

Such AI and mental health diagnosis capabilities allow reducing the severity of mental health issues among the population. When the disease is detected at the onset, the treatment is easier and more effective.

#4. Reduce the Load on the Healthcare Industry

The use of an AI system in mental health services allows medical organizations to backup healthcare professionals. Even though AI applications cannot substitute human contact and diagnose complex illnesses, they can stay in touch with patients and monitor their wellbeing. It enables therapists to focus on more critical conditions and makes up for the lack of qualified mental health professionals that is only expected to grow.

Besides, mental health using AI can be cost-saving in the long run. Depression costs American society $210 billion per year. When AI-powered solutions help people deal with depression and other mental health issues, they also cut expenses in the healthcare industry.

#5. Provide Mental Health Practitioners With Data-Driven Insight

Mental health is more difficult to measure than physical disorders. Hence, therapists take a lot of time to monitor the behavior and symptoms of patients. This delays mental health help and may aggravate the illness.

AI and mental health diagnosis solutions speed up the decision-making process. Artificial intelligence can do what human therapists cannot. It detects the slightest abnormalities in human speech that may reflect the changes in mental condition. AI also runs big data analysis to provide healthcare professionals with patients’ future health predictions and data-driven guidance on possible diagnosis and treatment.

This way, an AI system in mental health can considerably enhance the quality of healthcare services and simplify the work of therapists.

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#6. Ease the Caregiving Burden

The role of caregivers in the healthcare system is often neglected. Nevertheless, they spend 32 hours per week on average providing unpaid care. Given the aging trends among the US and world’s population, the share of people that need care will only increase. The number of dementia patients is striking – over 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.

Existing technologies, including AI for mental health, can ease the burden of caregivers. They track the target actions of people with mental issues, send emergency alerts to caregivers, support telehealth services, and more. For example, motion sensors connected to an AI system in a house can automatically detect deviations in the normal behavior of a patient to notify caregivers. This frees them from the need to constantly be around the patients and reduces the stress.

#7. Integrate Mental Healthcare With Physical

The physical condition of a patient often impacts their mental wellbeing and vice versa. Artificial intelligence connects the physical and mental health records to provide healthcare professionals with the full picture of a patient’s health and useful tips. AI solutions analyze the previous cases and the current patient’s condition to provide predictions about health risks.

For example, doctors may see a notice that a patient is likely to suffer from anxiety based on their existing health problems. Hence, they will be able to take proactive steps to prevent mental issues or help the person cope.

Future AI and Mental Health: What to Expect?

Though technological progress is hard to predict, it looks like artificial intelligence and mental health software will keep gaining popularity. AI is a win-win solution for healthcare authorities, providers, doctors, patients, and caregivers. Soon, it will be used in all mental health domains, from psychiatry to stress-relieving virtual assistants.

In the future, the variety of mental health solutions available in the market will skyrocket. AI-powered mental health apps already raise million-dollar investments. In March 2021, the HelloSelf app that automatically matches users with the best therapists via a convenient platform got over $7 million in series A funding. Several months later, AI-powered chatbot Wysa designed to improve employee mental health raised $5.5 million. These are just a few of numerous successful AI mental health applications. Yet, they show how great is the current demand for a custom AI system in mental health.

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If you want to leverage AI in healthcare applications, you will need a professional tech partner. Without third-party help, it will be difficult to assemble a team of experienced software engineers and manage the software development lifecycle.

Empeek offers its software development outsourcing services to assist healthcare companies looking for external tech expertise. We have already launched multiple products for wireless health monitoring, remote patient-doctor interactions, caregiving, and other domains. Some of them are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
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