a visualization of holistic and digital mental health trends

Look out for these emerging mental health trends and developments in the mental health care industry. 

Mental health care has undergone significant transformations in recent years, driven by advancements in technology, evolving societal attitudes, and a growing understanding of mental health disorders.

The Rise of Mental Health Trends

Since the pandemic, mental health issues have become a central part of the public conversation. As rates of mental illness continue to rise year over year, the shortcomings of traditional treatments for mental illness, have led the public and practitioners to explore new technologies and medicines in search of more effective care solutions. 

Here are some of the most exciting mental health trends and developments in mental health care that you might hear about here in 2024:

1. Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Care

Progress in artificial intelligence (AI) could significantly enhance the future of therapy sessions and the accuracy of mental health diagnoses. Research from December 2021 has shown that AI motion sensors are capable of identifying anxiety symptoms, which include behaviors like:

  • Biting nails
  • Cracking knuckles
  • Tapping hands

Moreover, a study from October 2021, regarded as a reliable source, indicates that AI can be instrumental in training therapists. This technology can assess their competencies, including their ability to create a conducive environment for their clients.

Despite these advancements, experts believe that AI will not replace traditional mental health services provided by human professionals, even as its role in mental health training and treatment is expected to grow in the coming years.

2. Psychedelics as Medicine

Around the world, psychedelics have been used for religious and medicinal purposes for centuries, predominantly among Indigenous cultures. 

Now, in 2024, we’ve finally entered a new era: of the traditional medical establishment, largely acknowledging the benefits of psychedelics, based on a growing body of research suggesting that drugs such as MDMA, Ketamine, Psilocybin and LSD, can help treat mental health conditions like depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, addiction or substance use disorder, and more.  

During this “tipping point”, we’re now witnessing the legal and regulatory systems adapt and change in order to make these treatments available to more people. 

In order of most available and common, these psychedelics you may soon have access to or hear about, include: ketamine, MDMA, Psilocybin and LSD. 

Only ketamine – a dissociative – is currently available nationwide (via doctors and therapists specializing in treatment with it) to the public. The others, however, are being made available in research studies, and State-level pilot projects, for assessing the effectiveness of utilizing these psychedelics in the mental health treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental illnesses. 

3. Trauma-Informed Care

Approximately 64% of adults in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes. 

In response to this reality, mental health practitioners are embracing Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) as an approach in the field of mental health and social services that recognizes the widespread impact of trauma on individuals’ lives. 

This approach understands that traumatic experiences can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. TIC shifts the focus from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”, acknowledging that past trauma can influence current behavior and health. 

This paradigm emphasizes the importance of understanding the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, patients, staff, and others involved in the care system.

4. Blood Tests for Mental Health

Soon, the possibility of using a blood test to detect mental health conditions such as depression could become a reality.

In April 2021, a team from Indiana University School of Medicine made a significant advancement by developing a new blood test for mental illness. This test relies on identifying specific RNA biomarkers that signal the presence of mood disorders.

The groundbreaking research revealed that this blood test is capable of assessing the severity of depression, as well as predicting the likelihood of someone developing severe depression or bipolar disorder in the future. Additionally, this test could be instrumental in customizing medication choices for individuals.

Matthew Boland, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Reno, Nevada, and a member of the Psych Central Medical Affairs Team, finds this development intriguing. He notes that while it’s a promising step towards identifying biological markers for depression, it’s still very early in terms of understanding and practical application.

Despite being in the preliminary stages, the development of blood tests for mental illnesses represents a potential paradigm shift in diagnosing mental health conditions, which currently relies largely on a process of trial and error. This scientific progress could significantly enhance and transform the diagnosis of mental health disorders.

5. Setting Boundaries on Social Media 

Most of us have heard, that excessive online time can adversely impact your mental health.

Yet, for those of you who own a smartphone, this reality does not make it any easier, to limit screen time. 

Those who have seen Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma” would know that apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are intentionally designed to capture and retain your attention for extended periods.

You may also remember the testimony of a former Facebook employee before Congress in October 2021, highlighting Instagram’s detrimental impact on the mental health of teenagers. This testimony coincided with a worldwide Facebook outage.

These incidents have ignited a much-needed conversation about the potentially damaging effects of social media and the importance of occasionally disconnecting.

The topic of “digital wellness” and setting healthy limits with social media is expected to gain more attention, especially as ongoing research continues to reveal its negative impacts on both adolescents and adults.

Matthew Boland predicts that we will see an intensified scrutiny of social media’s impact on mental health, though it’s uncertain if this will lead to concrete legislative actions.

The concept of “social media boundaries” will differ for each individual, and their effectiveness is still a matter of debate. Boland advises that the following strategies could be beneficial, though more research is needed:

  • Reducing screen time.
  • Unfollowing certain accounts.
  • Avoiding reading comments.”

6. Virtual Reality in Psychiatric Care

Virtual reality (VR) technology is emerging as a groundbreaking tool in treating various mental health concerns. By creating simulated environments, VR allows patients to confront fears, practice coping strategies, and improve social skills in a controlled, safe setting. This has shown promising results, especially in treating PTSD, anxiety disorders, and phobias. As VR technology becomes more accessible, its application in psychiatric care is expected to expand, offering innovative ways to address mental health challenges.

7. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is gaining traction as a non-invasive treatment for depression and other mental health conditions. By using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, TMS has shown effectiveness in improving symptoms of depression, especially in patients who have not responded well to traditional treatments. As research continues, TMS could become a more mainstream option for addressing persistent mental health disorders.

How To Identify Mental Health Concerns

When it comes to Mental Health, America is no stranger to the widespread impact mental health challenges can have on individuals and communities. Identifying mental health concerns early is crucial for effective intervention. Signs to watch for include persistent sadness, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawal from social activities, or increased use of substances. Recognizing these signs in oneself or others can be the first step toward seeking help.

Mental Health Resources

Navigating mental health conditions requires a supportive network and access to reliable mental health providers. Whether you’re dealing with a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or seeking ways to improve your physical health, resources are available. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offer guidance, while many employers are now prioritizing employee mental health by providing access to counseling and support services.

Final Thoughts

The landscape of mental health care continues to evolve, with promising trends and technologies on the horizon. From the application of AI in clinical settings to the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and the latest advancements in TMS and VR therapies, the future of mental health treatment looks bright. It’s essential to stay informed and proactive in addressing mental health challenges, recognizing the deep interconnection between mental and physical health.

Don’t Be Afraid of Seeking Help

If you or someone close to you is facing mental health challenges or a specific mental health condition, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Halo Mental Health is here to support you on your journey toward healing and well-being. Our team of dedicated professionals is ready to provide the compassionate care and innovative treatments you need. Taking the step to connect with a mental health provider is a courageous act—one that can lead to profound changes and healing. At Halo Mental Health, we believe in a holistic approach that recognizes the crucial connection between your mental and physical health. Reach out today, and let us walk with you towards a brighter, healthier future. Your well-being is our priority, and together, we can overcome the challenges and embrace a life of wellness.

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