Mental health: 10 innovations that will revolutionize 2023.

Unfortunately, it would be necessary to wait for a pandemic, the consequences of which we have not finished measuring, to bring the attention and efforts essential to mental health and psychiatry. Among them, we can certainly rely on technology! Faced with the recent flourishing of this ecosystem, we thought it was in the public interest to interview the leading specialists of the sector to draw up a serious overview of the ten innovations that will disturb the year 2023. All with the perspective of a more precise mental health . , more personalized, preventive and participatory, and bringing much hope to millions of interested people around the world.

1: Virtual reality, augmented reality and Metaverse.

In mental health, their use includes exposing the patient, via specific materials, up to anxiety-provoking situations for him. Under the guidance of a physician and in a safe environment, therapeutic work can be undertaken regarding dysfunctional emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Especially used in situations of phobias, post-traumatic stress disorders, addictions, eating disorders or the need for relaxation, TERVs (virtual reality exposure therapies) are rapidly being democratized in our hospitals and clinics, for because of efficiency and not. – access to drugs.

2: Web3 and Blockchain

The first interest here lies in the protection of health data, since web3 guarantees their control to users and patients (unlike web2, which is based on exchange of flows that can be exploited for commercial purposes). In addition, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) can also be very useful in mental health, especially in giving users a sense of belonging to a community. This is the case of The Clinic, which brings together 10,000 NFTs that grant access to a private discussion forum on topics such as anxiety or depression.

3: Related objects

True innovations, connected objects will bring great hopes to mental health in the next decade. Portable and ambient, these polymorphic sensors will soon be truly usable to observe in real time almost all patient parameters and constants in real time and in real life: behavior, environment, etc. They will provide unprecedented opportunities for building individualized models of causation and intervention. which will be equally important.

4: Face recognition

Visual observation of patients during a consultation or during a therapy makes it possible to extract digital markers in addition to conventional biological markers. From their behavior, additional information about the mental health of the patients is extracted. For this observation to escape the doctor’s subjectivity, he turns to the video. The main anticipated applications are aiding diagnosis, monitoring cognitive decline, and aiding in a better understanding of the patient.

5: Voice recognition

Analysis of the patient’s speech and voice (speed, spontaneity, hesitation, etc.) proves to be very useful in helping practitioners to ensure attentive and close monitoring. It is an easy to collect signal, cheap and non-invasive. In practice, solutions have recently been tested to detect early signs of disorders such as depression, anxiety and suicide risk. Integrated into clinical call centers or remote digital therapy applications, they help better assess patients’ profiles.

6: UX Design

If we know that it is important in every digital interaction, user experience (UX) becomes essential in mental health. Because the people in question are going through a difficult period and need support, it is essential that the solutions show a good psychological understanding of colors, the cognitive load and that the courses are considered real positive routines. There is still a lot of work to do when we know that today, more than 7 out of 10 users abandon a digital solution after 90 days.[2].

7: Social networks

Often singled out for their sometimes harmful effects on mental health, “social media” platforms nevertheless have a large role to play in democratizing and changing the perception of certain mental disorders, particularly in the freedom of speech of individuals who suffer. We are perhaps only at the beginning of a phenomenon that will grow rapidly, driven by patients creating content, but also by increasingly connected healthcare professionals.

8: Medical neurostimulation

Here, we are talking more specifically about rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). This medical therapeutic act aims to modulate the metabolism of certain areas of the brain to improve the symptoms of neuropsychiatric pathologies such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders or neuropathic pain. Non-invasive, painless and without anesthesia, the practice benefits from very promising studies, especially on so-called “resistant” disorders (to “classic” therapies). Still the prerogative of a small number of clinics and university hospitals in Paris and Lyon, it will tend to become more democratic from 2023.

9: Chatbots (or conversational agents)

As chatbots become more sophisticated and use conversational AI bricks, their potential increases tenfold. Natural language processing and generation allow for freer and more complex exchanges. Thus, chatbots can serve as first-level psychological support, or even as a relay between consultations with the therapist. In a dual context of the rise of mental health disorders and the shortage of health professionals, the fact that human-machine dialogue is likely to provide treatment offers interesting prospects.

10: Digital therapies or DTX

First of all, let’s remember that digital therapies are therapeutic or telemonitoring tools which, like drugs, are determined by proof of their efficacy and tolerability in the context of randomized clinical trials and respond to regulatory validation. Next, it is essential to specify that they are not meant to be autonomous, but well integrated into a wider ecosystem of care. Insofar as they respond to a real public health issue and because they are at the origin of valid alternatives to “all medications”, it is imperative to organize a radical and rapid collaboration between researchers, mental health professionals, companies of technology and politicians. to speed up their deployment.

Tribune written by Collectif MentalTech and 16 experts [1]

[1] Marie-Luce JACOB, Psychologist; Grégory MAUBON, Chief Data Officer, HCS Pharma; Gabin Marignier, CEO and co-founder of Focus Tree; Anca PETRE, Founder of 23 Consulting; Xavier BRIFFAULT, researcher in social sciences and epistemology of mental health at CNRS; Rachid GUERCHOUCHE, consultant for R&D and Innovation, technical manager and project coordinator; François BREMOND, Director of Research at INRIA Sophia-Antipolis; Ali SAGHIRAN, Doctor (PhD) in speech processing and data scientist at ResilEyes Therapeutics; David REGUER, CEO and of RCA Factory; Dr. Alexis BOURLA, Psychiatrist; Dr. Véronique Narboni, Medical Director Ethypharm Digital Therapy; Daphne PETRICH, Senior Business Development Manager of Hello Better; Dr. Hanne HORVTH, Founder and Commercial Director of HelloBetter; Hannes KLÖPPER, CEO of HelloBetter; Nicolas GREMY, Digital Health Sector Manager, Bpifrance; Emma GARCIA-LIGERO, Analyst at Newfund

[2] Saki Amagai; Sarah Pila, Aaron J. Kaat; Cendy J. Nowinski; Richard C. Gershon (2022)

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