Mental health care providers are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help manage patient caseloads, streamline paperwork, and cut down on the time it takes to manually review notes. AI software is able to learn, adapt, and respond to new information much faster than humans. But how exactly will this tech be used in mental health care settings? The more we understand about our mental health and how it’s affected by external factors like stress or our environment, the easier it will be for us to take positive steps towards achieving balance in our lives. AI can allow us to get there quicker by giving us access to information about our mental state that would have taken a lot longer for a human psychologist or therapist to uncover.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the concept of human-like intelligence that machines are able to achieve. However, AI researchers have noted that a more accurate way to describe the concept is to say we’re trying to “achieve mechanical-like intelligence.” In other words, we’re emulating the way a human brain works, but without the human-like traits such as emotion. AI isn’t one technology but a collection of technologies that include machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more. These technologies allow us to create machines that can process information and make logical decisions on their own.
In mental health care settings, intake processes are often very manual and paper-driven. Clinicians need to manually collect information about patients, including demographic data and family history, and manually feed this information into the system. This process can be incredibly time-consuming, and it can make it difficult for clinicians to provide the same level of care to everyone, as it may take them longer to work through the intake process with some patients than others. AI technology can help speed up this process. Through natural language processing, AI is able to understand written or spoken language and draw conclusions based on what it’s been given. For example, if a clinician inputs information about a patient’s family history into the system, they can set the system to ask the patient to agree or disagree with certain statements based on their family history.
To assess a patient’s current mental health and create a treatment plan, clinicians need to manually gather as much information as they can. This usually includes information about the patient’s mental health history, family background, stressors they’re facing, and how they manage their mental health. Such large amounts of information can be incredibly time-consuming to manually gather. It may also be difficult for clinicians to ensure that the information they’ve gathered is accurate. AI technology can help speed up the process of gathering information and make it easier for clinicians to gather accurate information. AI is able to understand natural language, which means clinicians can simply type or speak the information they want to gather and the AI system will be able to understand it.
One of the biggest benefits AI can provide in mental health care settings is screening and detection. Screening screening is the process of identifying people who may need support, but who may not realize they do. Screening and detection allow clinicians to quickly scan patient notes and use AI’s natural language processing abilities to identify words that could indicate a patient needs additional support. For example, if a patient’s note mentions that they’ve been feeling particularly stressed lately, the AI system would pick up on this and flag it as a concern, allowing the clinician to reach out to the patient and screen them for support that they may not even be aware they need.
Although mental health care providers are making progress in reducing stigma, many people are still hesitant to seek out mental health support, whether it’s from a psychologist, a therapist, or even just talking to a friend. While the stigma around mental health care is slowly changing, new technologies are helping providers combat stigma by making it easier for people to seek the support they need. One of these technologies is virtual reality (VR). VR therapy is a new approach to treatment that can help patients address their mental health issues in a safe environment, rather than dealing with the real-world triggers that may be contributing to their issues.
Artificial intelligence is set to play an important role in mental health care, helping professionals to more easily gather information about patients and streamlining the treatment process. From making sure people are aware they need support to reducing stigma with VR therapy, AI is set to make a big impact. Although it will likely be a positive change, there’s no doubt that AI will transform mental health care for the better, it’s important to remember that, when it comes to our mental health, nothing can replace human support.