Photo via Facebook.

AI and Mental Health

I don’t think many people are doing okay. From enduring the recent pandemic to absorbing tensions that have grown between political candidates, racial groups, and international countries, I think many of us can say our mental health could use some help.

Last year, a Gallup poll found the percentage of American adults who reported having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime had reached 29 percent, nearly 10 percentage points higher than eight years prior. The percentage of Americans who currently have or are being treated for depression has also increased, to 17.8 percent, up about seven points over the same period. Both rates are the highest recorded by Gallup since it began measuring depression using the current form of data collection in 2015.

I myself have reached a point of wanting no more to do with the comment sections of social media platforms. It seems this is the place to experience the worst in what we have to offer one another. The old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say” certainly doesn’t apply there, and despite efforts of kindness or encouragement, there are always those who are insistent on diverting the conversation to a negative space. It reminds of me of family gatherings.

So, what are we to do to improve our overall mood in this country? Some are proposing artificial intelligence as the answer.

A recent article in Business Insider highlighted the role artificial intelligence is playing in addressing the shortage of mental health care providers and emphasized its potential in aiding early diagnosis, personalizing treatment plans, and monitoring patient progress.

Click Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, uses AI through its mobile app, which provides personalized treatment strategies for conditions like depression, migraines, and obesity. It is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate the development of software for treating schizophrenia.

Another AI platform, Lyssn, focuses on improving the quality of mental health care by providing on-demand training modules for behavioral health care providers. By analyzing therapy sessions, Lyssn’s AI technology evaluates factors such as speech patterns and tone to enhance communication and engagement between providers and patients. This real-time feedback enables clinicians to identify areas for improvement and refine their skills, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

The article also acknowledges ethical and privacy concerns associated with AI in mental health care, emphasizing the importance of ensuring data security, confidentiality, and equitable access to services. Additionally, there is a need for human-led regulation to mitigate biases and stereotypes embedded in AI algorithms.

It seems odd to discuss AI as a growing advocate in the effort to improve mental health care, since I believe it has been the lack of positive human engagement that is to blame for some of the more manageable conditions. However, if the health care system can’t offer more of a human-based solution, AI is better than nothing, right? You certainly shouldn’t check the comments section for the answer.