Mental health and chronic diseases: How they are related and digital tools for their care
by Tarek Milla and Patricia Domínguez, November 16, 2022
Over the past few years there has been more consideration given to the need to prevent, identify, and treat mental health due to its high impact on the physical health and wellbeing of individuals and the general population. This was mentioned in the “World Mental Health Report” produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), in which they referenced the importance of working together to address and treat mental health conditions, along with the interconnection between a person’s mental and physical health. This has become a global priority.
Because of this, we are hearing more about mental health and its care; this becomes of even greater interest when speaking about patients with chronic diseases. Aspects like diagnosis, uncertainty, and/or the challenges that come with living with a specific disease, normally produce an emotional and psychological impact on patients, as noted in the “Study about the Emotional Impact of Chronic Disease” (in Spanish), which can result in conditions like stress, anxiety, or depression.
As a result, it is becoming essential to incorporate mental health into the treatment of those patients, providing comprehensive care in order to improve the management and prognosis of the disease. Emotional and mental support help the patient to be more motivated, participatory, and adherent to treatment, improving his or her health outcomes and quality of life, as noted in the “World Mental Health Report.”
The focus on the design and development of digital programs addressing mental health in chronic diseases has increased significantly to improve early detection of these conditions, personalize interventions, and offer support to more patients, ensuring adequate follow-up.
This approach can be achieved through various digital tools like our platform, Caaring®, which enables patient monitoring and support, while at the same time collecting data of interest directly from the patients, obtaining a real-time view of their health status, well-being, and quality of life. Then, based on this information, the provider can intervene with a personalized approach to the disease, taking into account the emotional state of the patient. In addition, these platforms also permit the creation of support programs through which the provider can transmit tasks and useful information that encourage self-management of the disease by the patients, helping them to be more participatory and adherent, as mentioned in our article, “Optimizing the management of mental health through the use of Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs)”.
Gradually, we are seeing the management and treatment of mental health becoming a more common theme, especially when it comes to patients with chronic diseases. Giving this the importance that it deserves, and prioritizing this care, is one of the keys to improvement, as indicated by the WHO in the above-mentioned report. One of the options that is becoming more common in management and monitoring is the use of evidence-based technology. This will enable the development of new methodologies in which mental health will receive more consideration as part of the treatment of diseases, encouraging comprehensive patient care, with physical and mental health going hand in hand.