The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected individuals worldwide in many ways, but one of the most impactful has been in the area of ​​mental health. The crisis has not only caused delays in the provision of regular mental health services, but has also put a great strain on the mental health of the public. Access to mental health services has also been a challenge, given that so many people have been asked to stay home and health care services were in a capacity for emergency care. All over the world, there has been an increase in mental illness and an increasing gap in care as health care systems struggle to cope with the increased pressure from the pandemic.

The mental well-being of an individual is one of the most important aspects to consider, especially in the aftermath of a pandemic. Due to recent recessions, global geopolitical turbulence, and increasing dependency, the mental health of the public has declined and the number of cases has increased. Research published in 2019 by the American Psychological Association highlighted a particularly pronounced trend in mental health disorders among adolescents and young adults, with a 50% increase in the reporting of symptoms for major depression from 2005 to 2017. Epidemiological predictions of GlobalData estimates that major depressive disorder (MDD) affects almost 40% more people than previously estimated in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Japan. The global prevalence of MDD is expected to increase further after the pandemic, from 53.4 million people in 2019 to 55.4 million in 2029. There is also a shortage of mental health and addiction care providers, which has led many patients to struggle to access care.

As the percentage of people living with mental health conditions continues to grow, this will spur innovation in the mental health space and lead to increased use of new digitally assisted care and diagnostic methods. In the future, GlobalData expects that there will be a diverse selection of personalized digital tools available in the mental health space for consumers to choose from.

Internet of Things (IoT) tools like mobile health (mHealth), which capture patient data, are expanding rapidly, with publicly available mobile applications becoming ubiquitous, alongside a large portion of the U.S. population and Europe now owns smartphones. Mobile applications are particularly suitable for treating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, where stigma and lack of self-confidence act as barriers to treatment and engagement. For example, nearly 8,000 medical, lifestyle or health and fitness apps are listed in Apple and Google App stores under the non-specific terms ‘mental health’ or ‘depression’.

Many mental health telemedicine platforms have seen increasing demand since the pandemic began, including Teladoc Health’s Betterhelp and TheraPlatform. The average monthly traffic to Teladoc Health’s Betterhelp site was more than three million visits between October 2019 and last March. That rose to about 4.4 million visits last April. TheraPlatform is a practical teletherapy management solution that includes videoconferencing. Its website saw a monthly average of around 32,000 visits from September 2019 to last February, which increased to around 617,000 monthly visits from last March to last June.

As health costs increase and patients become more engaged and involved, virtual health interventions will play an important role in meeting demand. This will require a significant review to ensure that integrated community and home medical care is available to all, with a future healthcare model focused on prevention, well-being and early intervention.