Technology empowers Philadelphians with mental health conditions

    There are a number of new tools emerging to help people struggling with mental health issues, such as a new phone app that helps discharged patients remember appointments. The city of Philadelphia is embracing new technologies to try to do a better job of treating mental illness.



    The real benefit of technology in mental health treatment has to do with its potential to reach people who might not seek out a therapist, says Arthur Evans, Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services. The city’s website, Healthy Minds Philly screens for problems and suggests resources.

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    Before the end of the year, Philadelphia will start offering a web-based application to deliver behavioral therapy treatment on-line. That could include therapy and tools to assess a person’s mental health.  

    Evans says his department is hoping these tools will address mental health issues across a broad spectrum, instead of just focusing on people in crisis.

    “Taking that approach really requires a different way of thinking; it requires us to use technologies, and it requires us to innovate in ways we haven’t historically innovated,” he said. “I think it’s an exciting period in our field.”

    Evans says five percent of the population has a serious mental illness, and 20 percent has a less severe form.  He says, typically only half of the 20 percent receives treatment.

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