Empowering 8 Billion Minds: Enabling Better Mental Health for All via the Ethical Adoption of Technologies

By P. Murali Doraiswamy, Elisha London, Peter Varnum, Barbara Harvey, Shekhar Saxena, Simon Tottman, Sir Philip Campbell, Alvaro Fernández Ibáñez, Husseini Manji, Mohammad Abdul Aziz Sultan Al Olama, I-han Chou, Helen Herrman, Sung-jin Jeong, Tan Le, Caroline Montojo, Bjarte Reve, Karen S. Rommelfanger, Charlotte Stix, Nitish Thakor, Kim Hei-Man Chow, Andrew E. Welchman, Vanessa Candeias
October 28, 2019 | Discussion Paper

EMOTIV has been involved with the World Economic Forum for more than a decade. We are proud to contribute to the neuroethics effort of the Forum and their partners. Ensuring that all the stakeholders designing the future of neuroscience, neurotechnologies and neuroinformatics have everyone’s brain health, wellness and privacy as their main concern is of high priority. As a member of the Global Future Council on Neurotechnologies, EMOTIV has contributed to the latest discussion paper published by the National Academy of Medicine. This publication addresses issues related to regulation, trust, data privacy, intervention, access, progress.

 

Foreword

The Global Future Council on Neurotechnologies represents a diverse group of experts drawn from psychiatry, psychology, brain science, technology, advocacy and the public sector. They are passionate about stimulating the global conversation on mental healthcare gaps and the best ways to address those gaps through emerging technologies.

Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide and could cost the global economy some $16 trillion by 2030. [31] Today, an estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression alone, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Most mental illnesses are treatable. Everyone has a right to good mental health, and yet, worldwide, some estimates suggest that around two-thirds of people experiencing a mental health challenge go unsupported. Even in wealthy nations such as the US and the UK, over 50% of people may receive no care. Such large diagnostic and care gaps call urgently for novel solutions.

The rapid spread of smartphones, wearable sensors and cloud-based deep-learning artificial intelligence (AI) tools offers new opportunities for scaling access to mental healthcare. The goal of this report is to spotlight, through expert knowledge and case studies, the most promising technologies available today to meet gaps in mental healthcare as well as forthcoming innovations that may transform future care. The report also proposes an initial ethical framework around issues such as privacy, trust and governance, which may be holding back the scaling of technology-driven initiatives in mental health settings. This report is not a systematic review of the effectiveness of technology nor is it a primer on its implementation into global health systems.

Technology is a tool that can allow us to achieve greater scale than ever in every walk of life, but human touch and compassion remain crucial for healing the mind. We are not advocating that machines should replace psychotherapists; our wish is for the adoption of technology as a supplement, in a fair, empathetic and evidence-based manner, to ensure that everyone everywhere facing a serious mental health challenge can get the help they seek.

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