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Empowering 8 billion minds: enabling better mental health for all via the ethical adoption of technologies

Health technology Innovation Mental health Telehealth Ethics Artificial Intelligence (AI) Machine learning

This report by the Global Future Council on Neurotechnologies explores the evolving application of technology in mental healthcare and considers the ethical considerations that surround its use. It finds that:

  • Technology is already being widely used in mental healthcare.
  • While the efficacy of many of these technologies remains to be confirmed by research, such technologies include a growing number of lower-risk, assistive options that show great promise in being able to provide support at scale. Crisis counselling via text messaging, digital cognitive behavioural therapy and tele-psychiatry are examples with an increasing evidence base to support their wider use.
  • The unique power of these technology-enabled services is their scalability and low marginal cost.
  • Tech-based care is location-agnostic, with the ability to offer “anytime, anywhere, any way” access via today’s most widely owned technology-based tools (mobile phones and the internet).
  • AI and machine learning, and the “big data” sets they offer, are starting to provide new insights into disease subtypes and are helping to optimize screening and care pathways.
  • Technological advances in the fields of digital phenotyping, immersive technologies (including extended reality) and digital medicine – among many others – will bring further opportunities in the future.

Given these findings, the Council urges governments, policy-makers, business leaders and practitioners to step up and address the barriers keeping effective treatments from those who need them. Primarily, these barriers are ethical considerations and a lack of better, evidence-based research.

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