Looking for problems is easier than looking for solutions. And if we were to start counting all the problems with the current mental health system we might never stop. But we can actually summarize them into 3 main categories: accessibility, affordability and anonymity. Let's explore the solutions to these problems that Neurotops has come up with.
There is no denying that if we start thinking about the problems with our mental health system the future looks bleak. The rising mental health crisis also does not help in the slightest. There are many factors which led to an increase in mental health problems over the years including the discovery of new problems and categorizing conditions which were not considered problems as mental health illnesses. Such is the case with conditions like binge eating disorder, learning disorder, hoarding disorder and more. But aside from new additions and discoveries, common mental disorders like anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorder and PTSD are increasing at an alarming rate. But we are all aware of the problems, we need to talk solutions. Neurotops came up with the triple A solution and the first one to be tackled will be accessibility.
First of all, there are a lot of people who don't seek help and never intend to due to various circumstances. Second if they did, the current crisis we are facing would be way worse and the entire system could collapse on its head. So what do we mean when we talk about accessibility? The answer can be as simple as: making it possible for any person seeking to get help to actually receive it but as complex as asking how can we possibly even achieve that? Let's take a closer look.
When people think about accessibility, 9 out of 10 times the first thing that comes to mind will most likely be facilities having access for people with disability. But when we talk about mental health accessibility, the problems don't just stop there. Regular people who have no problem moving about still can't manage to get the help they need. One of the major problem is the lack of time and the possible long drives trough heavy traffic. Modern life is often times an overload on our senses making us feel like we never have enough time. Thus a lot of people can never squeeze enough from their daily activities in order to spent a couple of hours trying to solve their mental health challenges. Also another issues which also translates into time, is the lack of enough mental health professionals. This means again that people might need to wait a long time in order to get the help they need. So, knowing all of this, what can Neurotops do? Our solution is to remove the geographical limitations all together. Even if you feel like you don't have enough time, when you are in your own home and know that you won't waste hours driving through the city you will be a lot more inclined to seek help and undergo treatment. With virtual reality this can become a real possibility. You can just relax in the comfort of your own home or any other place where you feel comfortable and undergo therapy at the same time.
This way the entire process of going to and coming from therapy is eliminated. This will also help with time waiting for your scheduled sessions since with no geographical limitations mental health professionals will also be able to help a lot more people depending on how busy their are. Of course this means that virtual reality should be implemented in most if not all of the mental health professionals cabinets and facilities in order to make this a reality. So with Neurotops the questions of where and how can someone get help would be to just sit on their couch open up an app on their phone, put on their virtual reality headset and after browsing through available therapists, immediately schedule a therapy session. Or, they could make use of advanced A.I. programs to immediately jump into treatment designed to work without the help of a mental health professional. Added to all of this the fact that studies and trials have shown virtual reality therapy treatment to be better across the board as opposed to traditional methods, Neurotops believes this to be a viable solution for the problem of accessibility.
It speaks volumes about a society which has reach to a point were people need to balance out mental health or paying the bills on time. And this is when discussing mental health, not surgical interventions, but treatment which involves a lot of talking. But even that can cost up to £250 per session these days. Put on top of that the cost of gas from traveling as well as any possible drugs you might need to buy and the total amount is bound to give people depression instead of treating it. Also governments, including the UK one, pay a huge price every year to help the mental health industry; a cost which increases every year. So is there a way to make mental health treatment more affordable?
To answer this we need only look at what other business models and industries have done over the years like the movie industry. Going to the cinema as well as renting movies from a store not only costs a lot of money but it also means more time wasted on unrelated things like traveling back and forth to and from different locations. This is why we now have subscription models like Netflix or Hulu which not only makes watching movies a lot cheaper but also a lot more convenient. Neurotops believes that the same can be done for mental health with the help of virtual reality. People can subscribe to a subscription model which can give them access to therapy treatment tailored to them. With work from home models getting more popular, mental health professionals will also appreciate this change since they will more easily manage their patients and schedules. With virtual reality money spent of large buildings and facilities can be better spent on other things such as training more mental health professionals.
This might come as a surprise but people suffering from social anxiety are not the only one who don't like talking about their problems with a stranger, especially face-to-face. In fact this aspect of mental health treatment is a great barrier for many people when they consider getting help. This is very normal as it is not easy to spill your darkest deepest pains to a therapist. In fact this is the exact reason why so much of the initial time and a lot of first meetings between a patient and a mental health professional is spent on building trust and make the patient more comfortable with the process. That's because the success of a treatment is directly proportional with how comfortable the person undergoing it feels. Also people don't just feel awkward because of them meeting with a therapist but also because of the prying eyes of people around them. Family members, friends or just strangers in the clinic can feel like judgmental eyes to people going to therapy. But what if it was possible to undergo treatment with no face-to-face meetings? But also a treatment that can still offer everything a face-to-face therapy could offer and more in an environment which is not only safer but also offers more options and control.
With Neurotops this prospect can become real. With virtual reality the patient and mental health professional will only meet in a virtual environment in the form of avatars. This will lessen the awkwardness by a large degree and get people to trust their therapist a lot faster making the treatment process smoother. Not only that surveys show that people who refuse or are reluctant to go to a therapist because of the face-to-face factor would consider or undergo treatment if virtual reality was involved. We all value our privacy and in this day and age where Facebook seems to know us better than we do, we want to at least feel that when trying to heal our problems we are anonymous. Virtual reality can give us that peace of mind. This way records of your conditions will only exist with an anonymous tag on them and you can feel safe that they can never fall in the wrong hands. Sure even now there is doctor-patient confidentiality but how many of us truly believe that it is kept sacred.
As we can see, with just the implementation of virtual reality we can already solve so many issues with the current mental health system. And before someone says: Why can't we do the same with a video call? It is not the same by a long shot. Actually there are even recent studies done which show that when people turned to the online therapy method using Zoom meetings (or other platforms) they noticed little to no improvement in their conditions. Not to mention that for a lot of conditions such as phobias, anxiety, PTSD the best treatment is exposure therapy which can only be done in vivo (in real life) or in a virtual environment. The latter is by far superior since it offers a high degree of control and safety that traditional methods cannot. With all of this said, what are some of your thoughts about possible mental health treatment solutions?