Interview with Craig DeLarge, founder of The Digital Mental Health Project
1) Please tell us a little about yourself and how the Digital Mental Health Project & Stresstech came to life.My name is Craig DeLarge, a digital health strategies and mental health advocate, who founded the Digital Mental Health Project to develop research and education that enables a responsible adoption of digital technology in mental and behavioral health contexts. The StressTech Literacy Series happens to be the educational program that we are spending the most time developing and delivering currently. This series teaches audiences about how to use their everyday digital technologies to achieve healthier stress levels. Currently, what we hear most in the press is how our digital technologies are ruining our health. Our goal is to change the discussion to one of how digital technology can support and improve our health. This angle occurred to us as we have spent a number of years using and experimenting with various digital technologies from smartphones apps to wearable sensors to online content to virtual reality, and seen how they can improve health when used skillfully. 2) How has technology changed the landscape of mental health?Digital technologies has impacted the landscape of mental health in several positive ways. A first has been expanded access to mental health services and therapy, for example when rural populations are able to get access to mental health practitioners via tele-/video-phony where otherwise they would not be able to get to an office, like with www.TalkSpace.com or www.BetterHelp.com. A second has been anonymity while accessing services and therapy anonymously where one might be afraid of stigma, for example when one is able to engage with anonymous peer support via chat, to get psycho education anonymously via websites, like with WoeBot.io or 7Cups.com. A third has been reduced cost of therapy delivery, for example when a therapist is able to administer exposure therapy for PTSD in virtual reality without having to incur the time and financial cost of recreating a traumatic or phobic scenario, a war zone, a flight or an encounter with a spider, like with Psious.com or BraveMind. A fourth has been improved tracking of signs and symptoms via sensors in both phones, wearables and observables, which allow active and passive monitoring, like with Spire Stone Breath Tracker or Muse BrainWave Reader. This monitoring provides additional insights into biometrics and behaviors which signal levels of health being experienced. Here you can see a presentation we have developed about Digital Mental Health Wearables which dig more into this application: https://digitalmentalhealthproject.com/anxietytech-conference-mentaltech-wearables-talk/. There are a number of other examples which can be cited but these are among the most impactful emerging. 3) Tell us about the 5 question assessment and what it is for.We devised this assessment to bridge from educating people about their stress triggers, coping mechanisms and digital lifestyle elements of favored devices, channels and content, to helping them develop a portfolio of StressTech for their particular situation. You can see an example of this process via my own personal assessment at this blog post: https://digitalmentalhealthproject.com/stresstech-covid-19-why-you-should-care/. 4) Tell us about the talks and workshops, and if there are any virtual ones happening at the moment. The Digital Mental Health Project offers a variety of talks and workshops which can be segmented into Digital Mental Health Landscape Overviews and Digital Mental Health Literacy. The former, we produce and deliver for conferences and strategy clients, to give audiences a view of the marketplace and its segments. This work has helped our clients make decisions related to competitive positioning and go to market strategy. The latter, we produce for organizations and individuals concerned about health & wellness and how digital tech can contribute to such. This work has helped its recipients re-envision how digital tech fits into their stress management regimens as a support, and not an eroded. Currently, all of these happen, all in an ad-hoc fashion as clients require, even as we are developing on-demand online offerings that will allow audiences to access our content, take our assessment and receive a report outlining their StressTech options. We encourage people to reach to us at [email protected] for more information and to subscribe to our newsletter at DigitalMentalHealthProject.com to stay updated on our evolving offerings.