It has just been announced that teenagers will be encouraged to use mobile phone apps to treat themselves for depression in a new government bid to help fight the mental illness.
As the number of cases of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders continues to rise, the government has stated that it wants young people to be able to access treatment for these problems online via their mobile phones.
Norman Lamb, the Care Minister, has argued that these tools will offer cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling and peer support.
“If you’re a teenager and your world revolves around digital access, we must make sure you get access to therapy online. What I want to achieve is a much more seamless service that allows you to access online, face-to-face or over the telephone - whichever is appropriate.”
Campaigners have strongly urged that this new technology must not come at the expense of face-to-face treatment however. Director of Campaigns at the charity, Young Minds, Lucie Russell commented:
“What we need is a plethora of different responses to young people who are struggling. You shouldn’t do anything that says you don’t need to go to your GP. There is a real risk. People with mental health issues are often desperate and sometimes they do need medication.”
While asking teens to use smart phones for treatment may not be the right answer for some people, it is a way to reach those who might otherwise avoid treatment. It could even provide a way to at least partially treat people in isolated areas or those with mobility issues who are unable to make it to regular more traditional therapy sessions.
Another possible perk would be the fact that teens could access a phone based resource quickly from anywhere. This could provide some level of extra support along with more traditional treatments.