A Digital Mental Health Map Hunch: “Digital Mental Health Development Follows Lessened Stigma?”

Now further elaborating on insights and hunches which have occurred to me in this research, here is a second that occurred to me. Take a read and let me know what you think. [And I hope you enjoyed the rebus.]

Application volume by disease seems to mimic the continuum of social mental disorder stigma. Mental disorders & illnesses (dis-eases, as I like to refer to them), seem to exist on a social stigma continuum, where, for example, depression, ADHD, anxiety (including PSTD), bipolar, dementia and autism seem “relatively” safer to talk about, while substance abuse and psychoses (including schizophrenia) still seem more frightening and taboo. Caveat: I recognize this is highly contextual and argumentative.

Anecdotally, when you look at the varieties of digital mental health offerings by dis-ease, you see that those states with relatively less social stigma seem to have a greater number of available offerings. I do not know exactly why this is the case. I speculate that where there is less stigma, there is: 1) greater public understanding of the disorder, 2) better “socialized“ evidence of clinical efficacy of the offering (as researched, published and socialized are far from the same thing), and 3) greater commercial potential. Educate me: I’d love to know if there is research that has verified or debunked any of this.

Digression here on lessening stigma: I think the recent increase in healthcare and pop culture presence of mental dis-eases, especially those in children, the elderly and veterans, has lessened, though not eliminated, stigma. This has been further aided by the increased “coming out” of people we respect, about their struggles with mental and emotional health. Digital channels, chiefly social media, has also aided this positive movement in our attitudes. Though we are making progress, we cannot rest. Many have not changed yet, and, being fickle humans as we are, even those of us who have changed can change back. Sigh.

Taking this insight to mind, it is important that we, as leaders in this area, work on:

1) optimizing current offerings via research, education/communication and investment,

2) effecting a steady lessening of stigma to better assure payor & population readiness to adopt current offerings,

3) effecting a better understanding of this space’s customers and their needs to assure ongoing and improved development of offerings across the continuum of mental dis-eases, for varied user personas.

Here is to each of us in finding our place and applying our resources, against this very challenging endeavor.

Your perspectives, confirming and varying, are very much welcome here.

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