Mental health may seem like a niche issue, but it’s startling when you consider the actual number of people who suffer with from some form of mental afflictions. With roughly one in four people battling a mental health issue at some point in their lives, it’s fair to say that, whether personally or through a friend or family member, you have been affected by mental health concerns. We’ve thankfully come a long way from the crude methods of dealing with mental health disorders used in the past. Each year, organizations continue to develop more progressive and effective methods for helping those with mental disorders.
Investing in Success
The middle part of the 20th century was a dark time for the healthcare industry’s approach towards treating mental illness. Doctors had only a general understanding and often lumped disparate conditions under a single treatment model, leading to very little success. As a result, poor facilities, medical professionals with questionable motives, and dubious modes of recovery received funding despite their lack of success. Practitioners tended to experiment with such radical measures as electroshock therapy, insulin-induced comas, and lobotomies, hoping to eliminate mental illness altogether; it was difficult for them to make good headway with curing patients when they tended to group all mental illnesses under the term “madness.”
Fortunately, contemporary healthcare professionals are not only better trained, but now more plentiful than ever. The sheer demand for qualified individuals has taken training out of the classroom and made it available to a larger pool of students through online MSN nursing and other web-based degree programs. Complementing this, the 21st century has also developed new models of financing that direct government resources towards programs with a proven track record. This pay-for-success model rewards facilities and programs that have measurable results, thereby ensuring tax dollars that successfully meet social demands that would otherwise go unfunded. With over $200 million invested in pay-for-success contracts worldwide, it’s a model that’s found success in many countries, including the U.S., United Kingdom, and South Korea, just to name a few.
The Community Approach
Dementia is a serious mental disorder that effects mood, attacks memory, and weakens motor skills. Patients diagnosed with dementia are prone to volatile mood swings, depression, frequent falls and, because of its effect on memory, confusion which can lead to wandering off and getting lost. Because of this, dementia patients often pose a risk to themselves, even with regular at-home care. Organizations within the healthcare industry have thus developed a unique approach to providing those diagnosed with dementia with round-the-clock care while still enabling them to experience a degree of independence.
So-called “dementia villages” are a new, community-based approach that first appeared in Amsterdam. Hogewey, the first facility of its kind, provides a complete community atmosphere with an on-site movie theater, shops, restaurants, and other amenities found in normal towns. The unique village allows dementia patients to explore and otherwise go about their lives normally while still under the watchful eye of caregivers. This allows patients to live more ordinary lives. They wear regular clothes instead of clinical gowns, they’re free to shop and cook their own meals rather than be treated like bed-rest patients, and there are no locks on their bedroom doors.
Thanks to Facebook, Skype, text messaging, and innumerable other communication platforms, it’s a simple fact that digital communications have outmoded the face-to-face meetup. When couple with the fact that many patients with mental health disorders fail to seek treatment because of anxiety, depression, or other factors that make leaving the house for a personal therapy session too difficult, it’s unsurprising that the healthcare community found a way to use this change in how people communicate for the better.
Online therapy is a rapidly growing industry that uses web and smartphone platforms to bring mental health care directly to patients. Whether through audio or text messaging, video chats, email, or cellphone texting, this new care model is perfectly suited for patients whose symptoms prevent them from seeking professional care through traditional channels. Thanks to its pricing model, web-based therapy is available even to those without insurance.
A Mixed Approach
Mental health disorders are rife with intricacy and the healthcare industry’s latest developments have been equally varied, a key element in their successes. Funding models now reward measurable progress, a larger pool of aspiring medical professionals can receive training through web-based courses, specialized community approaches allow the most seriously afflicted to receive relatively unobtrusive care, and patients can even receive treatment through their smartphones and personal computers. It’s this mixed approach that has fueled the dramatic success of contemporary organizations in treating mental health disorders.