What can online tools for Anxiety Disorders do for free?
There has been a dramatic upsurge in websites, smartphone apps and hi-tech gadgets to monitor health conditions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and calorie output – all physical measurements. Mental health doesn’t easily lend itself to computer monitoring. Most people who need intervention go to a therapist or other mental health professional. When that isn’t affordable, people usually “go it alone” which can have disastrous results.
A new company “Joyable”, is developing an online web platform for people with anxiety disorders. The company is a start-up venture that aims to create online tools for a variety of mental health conditions. So far, they have raised over $2 million from Venture Capitalists – and “Angel Investors” which may bode well for additional funding. Joyable will be starting with Social Anxiety Disorder but plans expansion into other conditions such as generalized anxiety, OCD, PTSD and others. The big problem with this development is that it isn’t cheap.
The company plans to offer their online tools for a significant cost of $99 / month. Though hi-tech has entered the medical field in other areas, costs are usually low, if not free and available on a smartphone. The developers state that their program is usable on a smartphone or tablet through the internet. They also have plans to develop a native app for smartphones and tablets as well, but they will probably still charge for the service.
The NIH reports that 15 million Americans may suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder but only about 15 percent of those are adequately treated – leaving 12 million or so, with unattended issues. The good news is that there are online tools for people with a variety of mental health conditions, and some of those are free.
Not to disparage therapy – but a lot of it is talk and even with insurance, it can be expensive. You talk, the therapist talks, you talk, the therapist listens. If you are in group therapy – you also have to listen while others talk. Sometimes the problems match your own; sometimes they don’t. In a lot of cases, you may be able to get some insight from hearing others talk about the same thing – but the best information is stuff that you learn about yourself.
The best place to start looking for help online is through forums – nearly always free. You can find plenty of people with nearly any mental disorder that you can chat with and take or leave the advice as you want. There is also no shortage of educational – and even entertaining websites (like this one) that offer information, quizzes, daily planning – all for free.
If you are willing to pay a bit, there are online therapists who are cheaper than going to an office. Therapists who will attend you privately on the computer – or even by phone. Joyable is planning on offering three categories of activities – education, cognitive exercises, and behavioral activities. They plan to have “coaches” who are “empathetic” and “good listeners” – trained by the company.
Psychologists oversee the program, but it is not very likely that you will get personal attention from a licensed professional. With a little bit of work, you can probably get much of the same service at a low cost – or even without spending a dime. But for the future, the attention that the service may bring might provide promise and signal hope for people with mental disorders.
One development often leads to another. An App, even at a cost may provide assistance for those who won’t otherwise receive adequate care – particularly with disorder such as PTSD that don’t often get enough or the right kind of attention. For now, you can probably skip the cost – and gather up the services yourself.