Health is only what’s easy to measure: the case for mental health tracking

Depression; via pixabay.com

When Apple launched its Healthkit you could see from their language they wanted to impress upon the rest of us just what an achievement it was: "...It just might be the beginning of a health revolution". While there is no doubt in our mind that health apps are way more valuable than most people realize (even if they cover really basic measures, such as the number of steps per day, etc), their language reflect some doubts as well.

One of the reasons to harbor doubts about it was pointed by Brian Whitman on Twitter (see screen capture below). Indeed, why don’t we have anything like a mental health tracking app? The answer, at least superficially, seems to be that it is difficult to measure with some degree of accuracy and displayed neatly on your smartphone.

Brian Whitman about lack of mental health
  tracking on iOS HealthKit. Screencapture

This is context for our recommendation of a recent post by Christina Farr in FastCompany.com.
Why do we recommend it? Beyond the obvious fact that we need mental health monitoring (a lot of our physical health depends on it), there are two important, albeit conflicting aspects she points out:

  • »   It isn’t at all easy to develop an algorithm to measure global mental health.
  • »   Some basic measures can be - and should be - implemented in distant health monitoring: self-reported data (like mood), sleep, stress and anxiety via tracking heart rate, respiration, or perspiration levels, level of social interaction during a given time period, etc.

Our own comment on this issue can be deduced from the title: are we willing to accept that "Health" should be defined only by those things which are easy to measure? At CashDoctor we never let the sheer scale of the problem discourage us. For years now, CashDoctor® is project that moves "against the grain". We took as our mission to return health care to the PEOPLE and reduce the cost making it affordable for all. By sharing information information about healthcare prices with virtually everyone via the CashDoctor® website and social media tools, we can put the healthcare industry on its HEAD and you just might save someone’s life in doing so.

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