Mental health is a topic on a lot of minds these days. In the views of some experts, we reached a mental health crisis point before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that only made it worse. However, new technologies popularized during the pandemic have helped to improve the overall state of mental health.
Mental Health & COVID 19
While the COVID-19 virus itself is not shown to have a direct impact on mental health, there are many ways in which the pandemic has impacted the mental health of everyone globally. According to KFF, 40% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and major depression disorder during the pandemic. To illustrate the urgency, only 10% were reporting these symptoms prior to June 2019.
This is also the case for children, as the numbers surrounding children ages 6-17 reporting these symptoms have nearly tripled since the start of the pandemic, and despite loosening social policy controls, have not come down. While these numbers are staggering, they are not terribly surprising, as lockdowns and social distancing have reduced our human connectedness and reduced the amount of time we spend with one another.
KFF reports that “studies ongoing from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.”
It is even worse for those that were diagnosed prior to the pandemic. In-person mental health services were unavailable for a period of time, and many practitioners have switched to telehealth services permanently. This has shown to be problematic, as many do not have access to high-speed internet or even a computer to have a telehealth session.
All in all, the pandemic had a dramatic impact on the mental health of nearly everyone and the impact is still being felt today. So what can be done?
New Technology is Helping Improve Mental Health
As we noted above, the pandemic exposed a lot of gaping holes in mental health services, as well as created new mental health issues in the lives of millions. Technology was quick to try and help solve this problem, with a host of new tools being developed in order to meet the rising demand for mental health services.
One such company is BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a platform that assists mental health practitioners connect directly with patients. While the service is not free, users can access it without having health insurance, and grants do exist to give free service to those in need.
Others have taken a stress-reduction approach. Apps such as Calm and Headspace are built to help users meditate. Calm has been featured in many news stories, and have used a smart advertising tactic to get their message out. By simply interrupting YouTube videos with a 30 second ad that simply has the viewer focus, Calm has been downloaded over 10 million times. Because so many have reported substance abuse issues rising as a result of the stress brought on by the pandemic, Quit That has become a popular platform to help deal with substance abuse issues. The mobile app helps users track their substance use habits and set quit dates, as well as offering support information and education.
All of these platforms have been used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to the Psychiatric Times, they have made an impact. Suicide rates, despite the other mental health issues that have been on the rise, were actually down by 3% over the same period.
A Loss of Connection
One of the major issues that has led to the rise in mental health issues during the pandemic has been a loss of community and connection. Many have reported it as the number one cause of their depressive issues, and most have found the existing communication platforms lacking.
By their own admission, the social media platforms have led to more dissension and loss of connection. Reports commissioned by Meta (parent company of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) concluded that the platforms were contributing to mental health problems in users, teens in particular. We have documentation that Meta attempted to suppress these reports, thanks to a whistleblower.
We have also noted how the selling of user data and the pursuit of profits have been the main cause of these problems. Ireland seems to agree. The country of Ireland recently fined Meta $400 million due to their lack of protecting teens on the Instagram platform.
With social media being a detriment to mental health, but people feeling disconnected, how do we connect in a meaningful way in our digital-first world?
CircleIt is the Alternative to Instagram and Facebook
The issues that social media platforms have are not present on CircleIt. No platform is as committed to protecting your privacy as CircleIt. While other platforms like Signal and Whatsapp are end-to-end encrypted, CircleIt takes it a step farther and refuses to sell member data to advertisers. Because of this, CircleIt isn’t encouraged to show you content that you don’t want to see. You’ll only see photos, messages and videos sent to you directly by those you choose to connect with.
So how does a generational platform like CircleIt promote positive mental health? Taking the main features of CircleIt into account, you can see how each can help in creating a more positive experience for its members.
The private chat feature can only be used by those you have added to your inner circle. This keeps outside messages from flooding your inbox. Parents can feel secure in adding their kids to CircleIt and exchanging messages there. By keeping kids off social media, you can reduce the amount of cyberbullying they could endure and give them positive, uplifting messages now and in the future. Who wouldn’t feel better after getting some encouraging words from the people that love them most?
CircleIt’s card store gives you the ability to schedule cards days, weeks, or even decades in advance. Just imagine being able to open a card ten years from now that was created for you by a loved one that has passed on. Or being able to send your grandchild an encouraging card as they prepare to graduate from college. Uplifting greeting cards are available for all occasions in the CircleIt card store.
CircleIt isn’t just about the past and the future. It is a way to stay connected here and now as well. Because, as the evidence shows, we all need to be connected to those we love.