Mental health professionals spend large amounts of time, frequently unpaid, writing progress notes, reviewing client treatment plans and files, and planning for client interaction and interventions. Frequently, it can feel to these professionals like their job is not primarily working with clients, but that the paperwork that they must complete, locate, and maintain uses valuable time that they could spend working with clients (1, 2).
Technology, especially mobile technology, has opened a window of opportunity for mental health professionals to take advantage of time-saving applications and programs that integrate various tools that they may already use and save them time (1, 3, 2).
As technology advances, it is important for mental health professionals, especially social workers, to embrace those tools that assist them in working smarter and not just harder. This series explores what has been used in the mental health and health science fields that demonstrate how mobile technology can be integrated into mental health and social work practice, developing more efficient mental health professionals and clients who successfully reach their goals.
The more efficient these professionals are, the more productive they can be. This results in more time spent with clients and less time spent shuffling paperwork and chasing down documents. The end products are more client graduations from treatment programs and more individuals who can receive services.
If treatment efficiency is improved and time in treatment is decreased, intervention costs are reduced and more clients are able to receive services (4). Many studies indicate that using mobile application and Short Message Service (SMS) technology reduces costs of therapy; however, training and equipment/software may increase costs (5).
Acceptance of mobile technology has been slow in mental health practice, as the foundation of the discipline lies in human interaction (6). The health care field has already implemented use of technology in many facets of their work, including usage of mobile phones and tablets, but the majority of the mental health field has resisted this change (6, 1, 3, 2). However, mental health professionals should continually search for tools and ways to advance their profession, especially that of technological enhancements, such as smartphones (7).
The mental health profession has had a history of lagging behind other professions in regards to technological advancements. It is crucial, however, for mental health professionals to embrace technology to advance the abilities and success rates of the discipline so that efficiency and productivity can increase.
This article is published as part of a series taken from the research the author did for her thesis.
- Lewis, N. (2011). 3M unveils advanced mobile healthcare app. Smart Phone Healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.smartphonehc.com/tag/3m-mobile-physician-solution/
- Saran, C. (2012). Taking the tablets to boost healthcare efficiency. Computer Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Taking-the-tablets-to-boost-healthcare-efficiency
- Preziosa, A., Grassi, A., Gaggioli, A., & Riva, G. (2009). Therapeutic applications of the mobile phone. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 37(3), 313-325. doi: 10.1080/03069880902957031
- Heron, K. & Smyth, J. (2010). Ecological momentary interventions: Incorporating mobile technology into psychosocial and health behaviour treatments. British Journal of Health Psychology, 15(1), 1-39. doi: 10.1348/135910709X466063
- Wälivaara, B., Andersson, S., & Axelsson, K. (2011). General practitioners’ reasoning about using mobile distance-spanning technology in home care and in nursing home care. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 25, 117-125. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00800.x
- Getz, L. (2012). Mobile app technology for social workers. Social Work Today, 12(3). Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/051412p8.shtml
- Warren, J. (2012, January). Mobile mind mapping: Using mobile technology to enhance rational emotive behavior therapy.Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34(1), 72-81.