An unintended outcome, the popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go is helping many with their anxiety and depression symptoms
The annual global cost of mental illnesses is set to rise to a whopping $6 trillion in 2030, from $2.5 trillion in 2010. Furthermore, the global treatment gap in 2004 for disorders such as depression and anxiety was more than 50% (half of the patients went untreated).
Behavioral healthcare is struggling due to lack of skilled personnel and sufficient infrastructure; only 1% of the global healthcare workforce can deal with behavioral health issues, while 45% of the global population stays in countries with only 1 or less psychiatrists per 100,000 people.
Depression and anxiety form the top two segments in the behavioral health disorders landscape. The gender distribution of all mental disorders is almost equal, while the most-affected age groups are the younger generation (15-29 years) and the middle aged (30-49 years).
Southeast Asia, the second-most affected region, seems to face significant stigma and awareness hurdles; it also lacks sufficient resources for helping those with behavioral health issues.
Behavioral health delivery is however changing. The new focus areas in care continuum are prevention (recognizing early symptoms and preventing worsening of the disease) and recovery (ensuring treated patients become productive members of the society).
Treating the patients’ physical as well as behavioral health issues together will become the model of integrated care delivery.
Several disruptive applications of digital health technologies are being made available by start-up companies in these fields.
Behavioral Health Biomarkers: Diagnosis of behavioral health conditions may improve with progress in identifying biomarkers associated with some conditions. Suicide victims often have chronic inflammation markers in blood and spinal fluid, for example.
Crowdsourced Research Approaches: such as MoodNetwork, a platform that brings together researchers, clinicians, and mood disorder patients, are growing. This is a collaborative effort that studies populations with specific conditions and collects data to find a solution
Artificial Intelligence for Linguistic Predictions: Companies such as Poulin Holdings, LLC (doing business as Patterns and Predictions) and NeuroLex Diagnostics are advancing the use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to assess behavioral health based on linguistic cues from social media, mobile texts, or speech.
Robots in Therapy: The potential of robots in providing emotional support and therapy is being studied, e.g. AISOY. Akin to virtual reality, behavioral health sufferers can ‘train’ with robots, before facing their social fears in the actual world.
With these developments and more Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2030 novel care delivery approaches that leverage existing technologies, along with ‘destigmatization’ of behavioral health issues, will allow the general perception of sufferers to transform from sympathy to admiration as they become productive members of the society.
Sapan Agarwal | firstname.lastname@example.org | +603 6204 5830