Technology and Mental Health Spotlight
On World Mental Health Day, we are taking a moment to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and access to mental health care for individuals worldwide. As technology impacts mental health in various ways, it also provides an opportunity to scale access to information about mental health issues and deliver support and services to more people than ever before.
Learn more about these mental health advocate organizations and how they are using technology to help achieve their mental health-focused missions:
Code of Support Foundation
Code of Support Foundation (COSF) exists for a reason – to connect troops, veterans, and their family members to the support they need, with a goal of ensuring that what happened to the veterans of the Vietnam War does not happen to the veterans of today.
From her experience as an army wife, COSF Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kristina Kaufman, saw firsthand the challenges that today’s veterans – and their families and caregivers – face when they transition back to civilian life. Navigating the complex web of service providers to get support, including mental health care, was a serious challenge.
Working backwards from this need, COSF developed PATRIOTlink®, a cloud-based resource navigation platform for service members by service members. PATRIOTlink identifies, vets, and verifies organizations and agencies across the country so there is no wrong door for veterans and their families. This streamlined access to services is vital, as the Pew Research Center found that out of 20.4 million veterans in the U.S, an estimated 30-40% report difficulty transitioning back into civilian life. Access to holistic care and wrap-around services is essential in meeting the needs of this population.
PATRIOTlink provides its users access to over 1,186 mental health care services, with an additional 383 resources serving as retreats, sanctuaries, or other ways for veterans and their families to pause, heal, and learn how to thrive in the next phase of their lives. For COSF, technology is the connective tissue that enables them to scale their efforts and reach an increasingly tech-dependent demographic right where they are – online.
COSF leverages several AWS services to decrease the manual work that case coordinators handle on a daily basis, while still preserving the human element of their interactions with veterans. COSF leverages Amazon EC2 and Elastic Load Balancing for PATRIOTlink’s performance and scalability, as more and more users depend on the platform.
At Headspace, Chief Technology Officer, Paddy Hannon, believes in a future where we can talk about our mind’s health in the same ways we talk about our body’s, where therapy is as normal as a physical check-up, and where an employee can take a sick day for anxiety in the same way they can for the flu.
To help create this future of de-stigmatized mental health awareness, Hannon and the Headspace team built a technology to bring meditation and mental health awareness into the palms of the public.
Headspace is an application that helps its users learn to meditate and live more mindfully. With hundreds of themed meditation sessions focusing on everything from stress and sleep to fear of flying and focus, this app provides guided meditations at various lengths with a goal of helping its users live in the present moment without judgement.
As Headspace promotes the importance of mental health, it empowers its users to leverage its technology as a tool to achieve well-being. With millions of users on the Headspace app simultaneously, Hannon explained that, with the help of AWS, his team is relieved from the upkeep of the application, skipping over the “technology plumbing,” and allowing them to give their time to business logic and mission-driven work. “Even during mass-market events where Headspace usage is higher than usual, our users continue to get a great experience on our app,” Hannon said in reference to the Headspace application’s ability to scale up to meet the demands of a high volume of visitors.
Headspace also uses technology to provide its users with more opportunities for access to its meditation sessions. For example, with the recent release of the Headspace Alexa skill, users can meditate hands free by simply saying “Alexa, open Headspace.” Hannon explained that technologies like the Headspace Alexa skill are creating a future where technology is not a burden to a user’s mental health, but rather, “it vanishes from everyday life as it becomes positively interwoven in it.”
Vibrant Emotional Health works with people across the country to help them achieve mental and emotional wellbeing with dignity and respect. Formerly the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), Vibrant Emotional Health’s solutions have delivered high-quality services and support, when, where, and how people need them for over 50 years.
Vibrant administers innovative community programs for people at all stages of life, as well as state-of-the-art crisis lines, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, New York City’s NYC Well, the Disaster Distress Helpline, and the NFL Life Line. Their advocacy and education work strives for systemic change. This hands-on experience gives them a unique understanding of the issues people face every day.
AWS enables Vibrant to build the web applications, data pipelines, digital storage, reporting, monitoring, and development environments that support these and other critical life-saving services and supports for people in crisis across the country.