Google Life Sciences recently hired mental health expert Dr Thomas Insel to investigate how technology can help diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Dr Insel has since discussed plans for wearables that could keep track of your mental health.
Many people already use wearable technology to track their own physical health and fitness, as devices which monitor your movements, pulse rate and sleep patterns become increasingly popular. Dr Insel believes that self-monitoring technology could be even better suited to mental health tracking.
A small portable device could monitor your tone of voice, speech patterns and physical movements, and pick up early signs of depression, anxiety or psychosis. It could play a key role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of various mental health issues.
Alternatively, the data needed to assess your mental health could even be gathered from your smartphone, rather than from a separate wearable device.
“Technology can have greater impact on mental healthcare than on the care for heart disease, diabetes, cancer or other diseases,” says Dr Insel. “It could transform this area in the next five years.”
He also adds that there are many people with mental disorders who will not go to a doctor for face-to-face treatment, and a new form of online treatment would be of great benefit to these people.
Dr Insel believes that technology can transform mental healthcare for the better, and that Google’s access to data could be crucial for developing new research in this area.