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Digital Innovations in Mental Health Care

In this Innosight:

Helping the human mind

Digital transformation is a fact of life in most industries and healthcare isn’t very different. You have probably come across healthcare solutions that enable you to book appointments, eye laboratory results, and compare different healthcare professionals on-the-go. However, even with the current market downturn, the portion of digital innovations related to mental health only continue to grow as we move forward in the 2020s.

Mental health is a worldwide matter both economically and socially. According to the WHO, one in five people suffer from mental illness today. Digital innovations can help to support mental health together with more conventional ways, such as human contact or medication. Initially, the pandemic posed the need for aggressive digitalisation in healthcare, but the innovations born at the time are here to stay. After all, mental health conditions are not unpleasant only for the individual per se. They are difficult to their communities as well as costly to the society. Global mental health costs may reach $6 trillion by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum.

Digitalisation in mental health care has no aim of replacing humans, but to complement and enhance human operations.

Moreover, digital platforms aim to offer low threshold channels through which communicating any mental health concerns or issues are made easy and less terrifying. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), as well as digital devices and platforms, the entire process of getting treated for mental health conditions can be made more personalised.

Four Tech Trends to Support Mental Health

Prevention

Diagnostics

Treatment

Peer support

Growth in Investment

The data collected using our data pool of more than 2 million tech & innovation companies offers interesting observations from the field. Both the investment and deal count in mental health has been growing steadily for several years now.

Mental health solutions saw a double in investment in 2020—the year of the pandemic. Yet, in 2021 this number doubled again, totalling €2,44 billion in investment. Although the world economic situation could still suffer a setback, the pace has continued alike in 2022. Namely, more than €1,25 billion was invested in mental health already in the second quarter of the year.

The number of deals has increased a hundredfold in ten years, from 2010 to 2020. Hence, there has been a drastically growing interest in the topic and its technological innovations. Major leaps were taken already in the mid 2010s but the pandemic is what undoubtedly changed the game – the number of deals per year have remained over 200 per year since. The investment activities in the first half of 2022 indicate a continuing trend.

Various innovations in mental health are supported by investments. There are a number of ways AI and ML can be utilised to help the human mind and support humane operations. Solutions vary from collecting and processing data from devices to online platforms for group support. 

Let’s have a closer look into the different trends and innovations within the mental health industry.

Capital Invested in Mental Health Innovations

Investment made in mental health in Canada, Europe, Israel, and the US between 2010 and 2022.

Deal count in the Mental Health Field

The number of deals per year in mental health in Canada, Europe, Israel, and the US between 2010 and 2022.

Four Tech Trends to Support Mental Health

The digital solutions for supporting mental health may be divided into four different categories: prevention, detection and assessment, treatment, community and peer support, and accessibility. 

Prevention

Preventive care builds the core of mental health, as it can save people from serious mental illnesses. Innovations related to prevention include applications that promote a healthy lifestyle or relieve emotional burden. Such apps may, for example, encourage mindfulness and physical exercises or writing down and monitoring emotions.

Diagnostics

AI and different digital solutions can help to detect and assess any mental health conditions. Innovations in this field are particularly useful for maintaining the wellness of communities, such as workplaces or schools. These solutions analyse any behavioural data that may be collected through a chatbot or game, for instance.

Treatment

There are various online service providers offering end-to-end solutions to get mental health issues treated. These innovations comprise online exercises, process tracking or any other form of online therapy that could replace human interaction.

Peer support

As we human beings are social creatures, we have a tendency to form communities to support each other. This applies to treating mental health conditions as well. Innovations related to the topic include platforms where people can interact with others and gain support from those having the same mental symptoms.

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