Inaugural Mental Healthcare Innovations Summit

Stanford Healthcare Innovation Team
Nov 10, 2022

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Mental health is one of the most challenging and pressing issues we face today. As former head of the NIMH Dr. Thomas Insel articulated, billions of dollars in research into better understanding the brain has not led to better patient outcomes for those suffering from mental health disorders. 

Dr. Thomas Insel’s Message to Summit Guests

Our current approach to mental healthcare simply isn’t working for enough people. Suicide rates have increased in the United States since 2000 and today one person dies by suicide every forty seconds. Worldwide, one in eight people live with a mental disorder. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disease by 2030, and already mental health has a global annual economic burden of $2.5 trillion, a cost projected to rise to $6 billion by 2030.

Fortunately, new treatments are arising and current tools are improving. Mental healthcare has seen promising advances in technology and research in precision mental health and digital mental health as well as a growing body of literature demonstrating the efficacy of psychedelics and awareness interventions. 

To support the exciting progress being made in this field, the Stanford Healthcare Innovation Lab and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change organized the inaugural Mental Healthcare Innovations Summit in October. The goal of the summit was to bring together leaders across the mental healthcare space in research, health insurance, government, policy, advocacy, nonprofits, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship to unite key stakeholders around our four pillars: (1) precision mental health, (2) digital mental health, (3) psychedelics, and (4) awareness interventions, and support scaling implementation of these interventions. These four pillars offer existing and promising new solutions in reach, scalability, and efficacy for mental healthcare./image

Mental Healthcare Innovations Summit. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Through a mix of keynotes, panels, and interactive sessions, we dove into the latest research and learned what each field can contribute to the future of mental healthcare innovation. During the Precision Mental Health panel, which was moderated by Jess Northend, we heard from Dr. Michael Snyder, Dr. Ruth O’Hara, Dr. Leanne Williams, and Dr. Jyoti Mishra. Precision mental health involves looking at people’s genes, lifestyles, and environments to provide the right treatment at the right time. During the discussion, Dr. Snyder pointed out that dentistry is one of the few fields that’s preventative, something we need to move toward in mental health.

Precision Mental Health panel. Left to right: Michael Snyder, PhD, Ruth O’Hara, PhD, Leanne Williams, PhD, Jyoti Mishra, PhD, Jess Northend, MPA. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

The Digital Mental Health panel, moderated by Antoun Nabhan, consisted of Dr. Daniel Kraft, Nichol Bradford, Dr. James Doty, and Danny Gladden. Over three billion people play games, including over 50% of Americans, and the majority of people who play games play with other people. The community within the digital world offers connection and deep relationships, which can be leveraged to tackle various mental health issues. Our panelists shared their experiences using and creating digital tools for mental health with Bradford reminding us to be aware of biases of what design looks like. 

Digital Mental Health panel. Left to right: Danny Gladden, MBA, MSW, LCSW, James Doty, MD, Nichol Bradford, Daniel Kraft, MD, and Antoun Nabhan, JD. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Our final panel focused on Implementing Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy at Scale and was moderated by Lauren Packard with Dr. Rosalind Watts, Dr. Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Dr. Jeffrey Becker, and Yuriy Blokhin as panelists. One of the psychedelics discussed was ketamine, which can rapidly reduce suicide ideation within one day among depresed patients with suicidal ideation. The power of human connection appeared here as well when Dr. Watts highlighted its importance for patients after their treatment with psychedelics in making a full recovery.  

Psychedelics panel. Berra Yazar-Klosinski, PhD. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Psychedelics panel. Left to right: Jeffrey Becker, MD, Rosalind Watts, PhD, and Lauren Packard, JD. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

During our Awareness Interventions session, Dr. Ariel Ganz presented her research on The Work, a method of self-inquiry with four simple questions created by Byron Katie, and shared the powerful impacts this practice can have on people’s lives. Findings from an ongoing study where participants went through the School for the Work demonstrate the profound effects the retreat had on depression, depression recovery, well-being, and a range of other measurements. Afterwards, Byron Katie herself led the group through a guided workshop of The Work where participants were encouraged to question their thoughts around a stressful situation. 

Ariel Ganz, PhD. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Byron Katie. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

We were fortunate enough to hear from other leaders in this space including opening remarks from Dr. Diana Ramos, a keynote from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, a demonstration of Akili Interactive’s prescription video game for ADHD from Jon David, and a fireside chat with Selena Gomez and Elyse Cohen

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Diana Ramos, MD, Surgeon General of CA (holding microphone). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

At the end of the summit, we held a design thinking session led by Susie Chang and Jessica Brown, designers from the Stanford d.school. Throughout the day, attendees were encouraged to take notes on the different sessions and generate questions from what they’d learned. The questions were used to split everyone into smaller groups, during which Chang and Brown led the group through a design sprint to brainstorm solutions to the questions.

Design thinking session. Left to right: Lauren Packard, JD, Laura Dubreuil Vall, PhD, Scott Delp, PhD. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

To continue the momentum and cross-sector collaboration, we launched the Mental Healthcare Innovations Council at the summit. The council will convene quarterly to discuss the latest research in mental healthcare and what our members can do to make strides in policy changes and scaling these interventions. The council is open to everyone who attended the summit, however, if you did not attend and are interested in joining, please join our community

We are so grateful to all of our speakers and attendees for making this inaugural summit a success and we can’t wait to see the new partnerships and collaborations that arise from this gathering. Together we can create the future of mental healthcare around the world. 

Michael Sinel, MD (center) Scott Delp, PhD (right). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Martha Thomas (left) and Liz Malara (right). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Event Speakers: 

MHIS on Social Media

Acknowledgements

Thank you to everyone who helped put this event together including Ariel Ganz, Liz Malara, Lauren Packard, Shirley Ma, Dawn Macurdy Billman, Francesca Goncalves, Lettie McGuire,  Sam Langer, Ruya Gunergin, Ben Rolnik, Mike Snyder, Benedict Macon-Cooney, Jess Northend, Lucia Asanache, Saloni Shah, and Nico Tellez. Thank you to PYM and BetterUp for their generous support 

Gallery

All images courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Article by Shirley Ma.

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