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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, the U.S. representative from California’s 18th congressional district
- Diana Ramos, MD, MPH, MBA, FACOG, the Surgeon General of California
- Michael Snyder, PhD, Chair of the Department of Genetics at Stanford Medicine
- Bryon Katie, creator of “The Work”
- Nichol Bradford, Founder of NIREMIA Collective
- Jyoti Mishra, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD
- Daniel Kraft, MD, Founder of Digital.Health
- Leanne Williams, PhD, Director of the Stanford Center for Precision Mental Health and Wellness
- Ruth O’Hara, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research at Stanford University School of Medicine
- James Doty, MD, Director and Founder of CCARE at Stanford
- Ariel Ganz, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Snyder Lab
- Ben Rolnik, Director of the Stanford Healthcare Innovation Lab
- Rosalind Watts, PhD, Founder of ACER Integration
- Yuriy Blohkin, Founder and CEO of Homecoming
- Antoun Nabhan, JD, Managing Director at Sagamore Ventures
- Berra Yazar-Klosinski, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at MAPS Public Benefit Corporation
- Danny Gladden, MBA, MSW, LCSW, Director of Behavioral Health and Social Care at Oracle
- Jon David, Chief Product Officer at Akili Interactive
- Lauren Packard, JD, Senior Policy Analyst at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
- Benedict Macon-Cooney, Deputy Executive Director at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
- Jess Northend, MPA, Policy Lead at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
- Jeffrey Becker, MD, Founder and CSO of Bexson Biomedical
- Zak Williams, Co-Founder and CEO of PYM
- Elizabeth Malara, Community, Tech, and Public Policy at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
- Selena Gomez, Founder at Rare Beauty
- Elyse Cohen, Vice President of Social Impact and Inclusion at Rare Beauty
MHIS on Social Media
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
All images courtesy of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Article by Shirley Ma.