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Digital Innovations for Global Mental Health: Opportunities for Data Science, Task Sharing, and Early Intervention

  • John A. NaslundEmail author
  • Pattie P. Gonsalves
  • Oliver Gruebner
  • Sachin R. Pendse
  • Stephanie L. Smith
  • Amit Sharma
  • Giuseppe Raviola
Technology and its Impact on Mental Health Care (J Torous and T Becker, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Technology and its Impact on Mental Health Care

Abstract

Purpose

Globally, individuals living with mental disorders are more likely to have access to a mobile phone than mental health care. In this commentary, we highlight opportunities for expanding access to and use of digital technologies to advance research and intervention in mental health, with emphasis on the potential impact in lower resource settings.

Recent findings

Drawing from empirical evidence, largely from higher income settings, we considered three emerging areas where digital technology will potentially play a prominent role: supporting methods in data science to further our understanding of mental health and inform interventions, task sharing for building workforce capacity by training and supervising non-specialist health workers, and facilitating new opportunities for early intervention for young people in lower resource settings. Challenges were identified related to inequities in access, threats of bias in big data analyses, risks to users, and need for user involvement to support engagement and sustained use of digital interventions.

Summary

For digital technology to achieve its potential to transform the ways we detect, treat, and prevent mental disorders, there is a clear need for continued research involving multiple stakeholders, and rigorous studies showing that these technologies can successfully drive measurable improvements in mental health outcomes.

Keywords

Digital technology Global mental health Big data Task sharing Artificial intelligence Early intervention 

Notes

Funding information

Dr. Naslund reports receiving support from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), grant number: U19MH113211.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

John A. Naslund declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Pattie P. Gonsalves declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Oliver Gruebner declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Sachin R. Pendse declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Stephanie L. Smith declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Amit Sharma declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Giuseppe Raviola declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Naslund
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pattie P. Gonsalves
    • 2
    • 3
  • Oliver Gruebner
    • 4
    • 5
  • Sachin R. Pendse
    • 6
    • 7
  • Stephanie L. Smith
    • 8
  • Amit Sharma
    • 6
  • Giuseppe Raviola
    • 1
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Global Health and Social MedicineHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.SangathNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.SangathPorvorimIndia
  4. 4.Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention InstituteUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  6. 6.Microsoft Research IndiaBangaloreIndia
  7. 7.Georgia Institute of TechnologySchool of Interactive ComputingAtlantaUSA
  8. 8.Department of PsychiatryBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  9. 9.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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