• Maya Nair

Mental-Health Technology



“Many people suffer in silence. Partly because these conditions can be difficult to speak about but it is also because care is very hard to access” - Andy Blackwell


Introduction


Is no secret that everything we knew before has changed with the pandemic. But one thing that has not changed is the need for mental health care from professionals across the globe. This article will highlight the impact that technology has on mental health basing ourselves on the work done by Andy Blackwell, scientist and healthcare technology entrepreneur.


In half the countries in the world there are fewer than 4 mental health workers for every 100 thousand people. On a TedTalk done by Andy, he compares this to a person in the biggest stadium in the world responsible for all the people watching the game.

This is not just a problem in developing countries. If we go to a rural town in the middle of the US, it can be very difficult to access high quality care.


“We need better options”


  • We are talking about serious conditions that shape the way people live and see the world. The people that vote and shape the world.

  • Clinical depression is more than sadness. “This person can have every reason in the world to be happy but fundamentally lose the ability to experience pleasure and joy”

  • Dr. Blackwell talks about two major challenges:

  1. We need to find new ways of giving people better access to treatment

  2. Now that we have so many treatments:

  3. Medicine/drugs: we need to see what works for whom. Working out what for each person might take years and years of trial

  4. Talking therapy


What is next?


There is an Artificial Intelligence Program that helps tackle these problems in another way:

  • “Ieso Digital Health, with its Eight Billion Minds program, is building these technologies now and will enter clinical trials soon”

This program is set on during a therapy session where the AI analyses where the small chat or simple non-therapeutic language (ex: traffic) are taking part during the conversation with the therapist.

If we look at the picture shown below, we can see the pink elements. In this case,the therapist starts using a more structured clinical language and therapeutic techniques about 8 minutes into the session.

After each session, the patient reports the frequency of their symptoms using a rating based form. This enables us to study what is going on in the session with subsequent improvement and symptoms.






Conclusion


This will help the mental health care professionals take a more feedback and data-based approach to their sessions with their patients.




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