Tech Must Disrupt the Mental Health Hotline Industry
Investor @PascalCapital, formerly @Google and @TripAdvisor. Interested in mental health & blockchain
Moreover, we are living at a time where more people are at distress due to the coronavirus shutting down businesses, companies laying people off while beginning their hiring freeze, founders facing increasing difficulty in raising their rounds, a financial upheaval for those who held a lot of equity, internship programs being shut down and increasing social isolation at an unprecedented scale.
This raises an important question — until when will we stall the development of apps for those who are desperately in need?
Here are some statistics to consider:
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness in a given year.1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6–17 experienced a mental health disorder1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each yearSuicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 10–34.Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
56.4% of Americans (or over 24 million people) with a mental illness receive no treatment for their conditionReasons range from not having insurance coverage, mental health care not being covered by insurance, or the high costs of care.Over 9.8 million adults in the US reported having serious suicidal thoughts, which is about 200,000 more people than the previous year
Suicide rates among people 15 to 64 rose from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017 (33% increase).
2X more likely to suffer from depression6X more likely to suffer from ADHD3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse10X more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder50% more likely to report having a mental health condition72% of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health concerns
1 in 5 college students has weighed suicide (responses from 67,000 college students from more than 100 American institutions).
Firstly, we must work towards destigmatizing suicidal thoughts. Often, suicides are left with no notes because even until the end, people likely feel that they are stuck in the environment of fear and silence.
However, one week is likely too short to get the reach it needs, which is why you may have never even known that such a week existed. How could we expect people to feel comfortable opening up within a 7-day window on a topic that is heavily stigmatized?
The fact that only two options exist for those who are most vulnerable makes no sense, especially considering the fact that so many people are endangered.
Lastly, we must provide tools and resources that are easily accessible for people with these conditions. As a team lead at HackMentalHealth, I am actively seeking solutions with other team leads that could ease this access. If you would like to contact us, whether that is for more resources or partnerships, please message us here
Although suicides look like an insurmountable problem right now, I believe that a collaborative effort could lead to a decline in suicides.
What makes this problem different from other problems is that it is statistically likely that we have a person around us who have suffered losses or lost so much control over their life that nothing makes them happy anymore.
Having worked with a countless number of mental health patients as a researcher for the lab for youth mental health, occupational therapy school and as a blue dot regional lead during my time at one of the big tech companies, I got to see that the problem of mental health hunts us ubiquitously.
I hope that we could one day live in a world where there are as many therapy apps for suicide patients as we do with meditation apps for the general public.
The reason why so many meditation apps were able to succeed was that there was no one-meditation-fits-all solution.
As such, we shouldn’t assume that such a solution exists for those with suicidal thoughts either. Technology should look to empower users to do what they couldn’t do through technology and I look forward to seeing how technology looks to disrupt therapies for those with suicidal thoughts.
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