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Sharing – How AI ‘therapists’ and machine learning could be the answer to affordable mental health care

I know I have written and linked to pieces about this before, but I really like the way this article not only talks about some of the things we are barely scratching the surface of at this time, but also explains in these two paragraphs why it’s so important to develop these kinds of tools.

“Clearly, AI has the potential to reshape mental-health care in powerful and meaningful ways — if people choose to get help, or are able to find it. One of every five adults in the U.S. experienced mental illness in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but less than half received treatment. One reason is that psychiatrists and psychologists in the U.S. are concentrated in urban areas, mostly in the Northeast and on the West Coast. More than three times as many psychologists practice in New England, for example, than in the Gulf states. Many rural counties have no mental-health professionals.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to treatment is an age-old cultural stigma about mental illness and therapy. The irony is that while mental disorders now are more out in the open, privately many patients and their families carry shame and embarrassment about it. Add financial constraints and lack of health insurance for some, and it’s clear why many people who need psychological counseling go untreated. The gap in care is global: the World Health Organization reports that one in four people globally will suffer from psychological distress at some point in life, but two-thirds will never seek help.”

Look at the number of people who either don’t even try to get help, or are unable to get help. I’ve seen them over and over again and I’m left feeling helpless. We can advocate for people, we can speak out and maybe even completely eliminate stigma one day, but all of that will never, ever, make tens (hundreds?)of thousands of mental health resources and professionals magically appear in every rural area and country across the world.

We need better tools than that. I can only hope that this early development work will lead to some real solutions for people.

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