Can Artificial Intelligence Solve the Growing Mental Health Crisis?

There is a global epidemic that has been silently brewing in recent decades. This epidemic refers to none other than the exponential growth of mental health problems around the world, which is now attracting significant attention due to its catastrophic consequences.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a groundbreaking report in 2020, highlighting the devastating effects of mental and substance use disorders (M/SUD). SAMHSA’s analysis found that M/SUD treatment spending from all public and private sources is expected to reach $280.5 billion in 2020, an increase from $171.7 billion in 2009. Even more Importantly, mental health problems place significant burdens on patients themselves, create incalculable challenges for patients’ families and care settings, and sadly result in countless lives lost to irreconcilable illnesses. Indeed, no amount of money or economic analysis can quantify the physical and emotional toll of mental illness.

Earlier this month, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released an advisory report titled Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, highlighting the significant public health concerns caused by mental health issues. He specifically addresses loneliness and lack of social connection as a major concern and discusses his journey in recognizing them as problems: Loneliness is more than just a negative feeling: it damages both individual and social health. It is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity. And the harmful consequences of a society devoid of social connection can be felt in our schools, workplaces and civic organizations, where performance, productivity and engagement are diminished.

Fortunately, increased mental health awareness has ushered in significant innovation and investment in new remedies and treatment modalities. One such new concept is the use of AI in the mental health space.

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