The Stream

Is the future of mental health care digital?

On Wednesday, November 21 at 19:30 GMT
Would you use an artificial-intelligence driven chatbot for talk therapy?

In October, the World Health Organization reported a worldwide failure to achieve global mental health care targets. And according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the United States experience a mental health condition each year. Though conditions are common, stigma, long wait times and lack of access to resources often results in insufficient care.

Calls to mental health support lines surged during the pandemic and demand for digital healthcare grew faster than before. Apps and online platforms have boomed as part of the global trillion dollar wellness industry, offering promises of convenient access to a healthier life where traditional approaches to health and medicine have fallen short.

A plethora of apps are now available to address issues ranging from depression and anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. While some say these disruptive technologies help combat stigma and make previously elusive care accessible, others raise concerns about ethics, privacy, biases and above all quality of care. This has some advocates calling for increased regulation.

In this episode of The Stream, we discuss the benefits, and dangers, of digital mental healthcare.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Hannah Zeavin @HZeavin
Author, The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy

Nicole Martinez-Martin @girasoul
Assistant Professor, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

Dr. Saumya Dave @saumyajdave