01 February 2023
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Technology has opened up a new era in mental health. Until the advent of mental health tech, patients had been discouraged from seeking treatment due to the stigma of mental illness, high costs, long waiting times, and doubts surrounding its effectiveness. As the prevalence of mental disorders continues to rise worldwide, demand for mental health technology has increased, especially exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health tech provides solutions to a plethora of mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), etc. Mental health tech solutions can be used at different stages of the illness (e.g.: prevention, diagnosis, treatment), and by the technology can primarily be used in three ways, 1. Platforms that Increase Access to Care 2. Self-Monitored Therapies 3. Novel Therapies.
There is a wide array of mental health tech based on different technologies with telepsychiatry variations being the most common due to its looser regulation, lower costs, and better accessibility than novel therapies. As the tools become more popular and advanced, regulatory authorities continue to develop suitable ordinances to seek a balance between maintaining oversight and avoiding hampering innovation.
Mental disorders can result in productivity losses for employers, as well as employers who cover the cost of their staff's therapy incur higher costs for conventional in-office therapy. Analysis has shown the gains of switching to telepsychiatry from in-office therapy as the savings accrued through improved productivity. Also, the analysis assumes that telepsychiatry will be used by patients already undergoing treatment, but if telepsychiatry reaches the untreated population in the future, its market size could potentially double.
Incumbents in the telehealth space utilise M&A to enter the mental health tech space, with most acquisitions targeting players engaged in telepsychiatry, likely due to it being the most used mental health tool. Telepsychiatry players also engage in M&A to compete for pandemic-driven demand and growing investor funding. For instance, some players, including incumbents are looking to offer integrated solutions to be more competitive.
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