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Using eHealth to Boost Teen Mental Wellness

 

It can prove difficult to tell whether a teen’s difficult behavior is due to natural hormonal changes or a forthcoming, serious mental health issue. Furthermore, the traditional standard of care in the United States typically involves office sessions that can consume precious time needed to attend to pressing personal or professional matters. eHealth, however, can provide teens access to top-quality behavioral health services from the comfort of home.

eHealth, or digital health, remains in its early stages. The term is used commonly among care providers and med-tech innovators, but what the moniker truly depicts is still emerging. While there’s no consensus for precisely which practices and equipment compose the discipline, for now, the word eHealth is used as a general term encapsulating all digital and mobile health resources, and even more ambiguity as to what eHealth entails exists among disciplines such as behavioral health.

How eHealth Promotes Behavioral Wellness

Among leading medical institutions, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the latest group to accept eHealth technology as a viable resource for promoting improved behavioral health outcomes. In fact, the organization has published a report titled “Global diffusion of eHealth: Making universal health coverage achievable,” which highlights how technology facilitates universal healthcare around the world.

According to the report, the deployment of eHealth resources is essential for making healthcare services accessible to all. Today, most people have access to a mobile device. Consequently, the technology can potentially empower underserved populations to seek behavioral health services, despite a lack of access to adequate care facilities.

eHealth technology empowers behavioral health specialists to deliver effective diagnoses regardless of their distance from patients. In addition, it allows care providers to learn the latest practices and techniques via the internet.

Impact of eHealth on Teenage Mental Wellness

Currently, scientists are working to find improved ways to use eHealth technology to treat behavioral health patients. So far, studies show that the resource works well. In the future, researchers believe that behavioral health specialists will be empowered to deliver services that parallel in-person treatments using eHealth resources.

In their studies, the researchers compared the in-person therapy sessions for teens with that of the eHealth sessions for adults. In future studies, researchers believe that they can replicate the positive outcomes of the adult trials with teens using eHealth technology. If successful, the researchers expressed that the resource will enable behavioral health specialists to deliver services to a substantial number of teen patients, overcoming existing barriers such as the absence of transportation and physical remoteness.

Paving the Way for eHealth

Access to affordable and effective healthcare is a worldwide dilemma for providers and patients. Thought leaders in the healthcare field, however, believe that if governments do their part to advocate for the deployment of eHealth services, this will greatly empower care providers to provide access to competent behavioral health care to underserved groups.

More than likely, this is where the delivery of behavioral health services is headed. A 2015 WHO survey, for instance, reports that 75 percent of polled member nations already leverage social media to engage the public. Also, 80 percent of those respondents use the digital resource to share public health communications.

The report indicates that the foundation to leverage eHealth technology is already in place and can help organizations overcome budget and operational gaps. In addition, the technology can increase access to services while at the same time enhancing the quality of care.

The Global Deployment of eHealth Technology

In the U.S., behavioral health experts say that the nation is a leader in global mental health. They base this opinion on the observation that varying global cultures have different perspectives about mental wellness. However, U.S. behavioral health specialists have worked diligently to promote their view of the discipline for the last five years.

Resultantly, the worldview about behavioral health is evolving. The beliefs of Western behavioral health practitioners are now highly influential in the way that international care providers perceive mental wellness. As time goes on, popular culture-oriented myths and superstitions are succumbing to perspectives backed by empirical evidence.

eHealth, Behavioral Health and Teens

Teenager’s bodies and minds are in a perpetual phase of development. At times, this may cause them to appear emotional, erratic or temperamental. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one in five teenagers have problems with behavioral health. Among those teens, less than half seek treatment.

This latter group faces an especially high risk of developing serious mental health problems. Without treatment, mild or moderate mental health issues can develop into a problem that significantly diminishes a teen’s ability to function.

eHealth technology might help more of these teens. And it could also prove especially beneficial in helping teens who typically would not comply with treatment plans. As more behavioral health specialists deploy the technology, society will find wellness and peace of mind with good mental health.

About the Author

Nancy Goldwyn is nurse leader and health informatics specialist for Applied Nursing Research.

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