Scope of AI in becoming an integral part of mental health services in the future - Hindustan Times
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Scope of AI in becoming an integral part of mental health services in the future

ByHindustan Times
Nov 03, 2023 03:24 PM IST

This article is authored by Anmol Arora, founder & CEO, DocVita.

In the rapidly evolving digital era, technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are reshaping the world at an unparallelled scale. The profound impact of AI spans across industries, and there is probably no field where AI has not made a revolutionary impact.

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Mental health

A field where AI has made its impact felt and promised several breakthroughs is healthcare. AI has shown remarkable accuracy in analysing medical imaging data to detect critical conditions like cancer and diabetes. For instance, Google Health's DeepMind integrates AI to analyse data for conditions such as diabetic eye disease and breast cancer, aiding in accurate diagnoses and early intervention.

Needless to say, the AI revolution in mental healthcare is not just promising but inevitable. Through AI integration in mental health services, we can augment human expertise and foster a well-rounded approach to mental health treatment.

AI plays a crucial role in facilitating the therapeutic journey of clients by aiding them at different stages of the process. At the core lies AI’s potential to provide personalised assistance to each client by helping them find the right therapist for effective collaboration from the outset.

While looking for support, AI could help understand clients’ needs better by dynamically adjusting the subsequent questions based on their responses, helping them find the right kind of mental health support.

Before therapy sessions, an AI copilot could help clients better prepare for a session by helping them with seamless onboarding and assisting with personalised nudges to prepare for each session. By equipping the clients with resources and more insights at each step of their therapy journey, we will enhance their progress and unlock more impact.

While in the session with a therapist, AI can assist clients with very precise & personalised automated note-taking and session summaries, which would help clients unlock more insights as they progress. By handling some logistical tasks, AI allows clients and therapists to concentrate fully on the session.

Beyond sessions, AI could employ Natural Language Processing to analyse the content discussed during therapy sessions, extracting relevant keywords, topics, or themes, thus curating personalised workbooks for the clients. Additionally, interactive chatbots providing ongoing support can fill the gap between therapy sessions and enhance progress. This helps increase adherence to the mental health care journey, encouraging clients to remain engaged and committed to their treatment plans, ultimately improving their mental well-being.

The scope of integrating AI could also extend beyond therapy sessions. AI could play a pivotal role in developing sophisticated & personalised self-help tools. Therapeutic support and valuable education can help bridge the gap, effectively extending the reach and impact of therapy beyond the scheduled sessions.

Moreover, they can provide immediate support, coping strategies, and resources, ensuring clients have assistance at their fingertips when they need it the most.

Collecting a thorough history helps the therapist understand the client's background, experiences, and the context in which their concerns have developed. With the potential to ask more questions in context in the onboarding process, AI could help in capturing essential information for an accurate diagnosis.

During the sessions, AI could aid mental health professionals in more thorough note-taking, enabling them to fully engage with the client. By collecting this information and analysing it over time, AI can help track client progress and suggest adjustments to treatment plans.

Based on this information, AI can also provide relevant, up-to-date research findings and training resources, aiding therapists in staying current with best practises and new developments in the field - in the context of their ongoing case.

Outside of sessions, one of AI's most significant impacts could be scheduling, billing, and other administrative tasks, freeing up more time for therapists to help more clients and concentrate on providing empathetic and effective mental health support.

By taking over the often laborious task of documentation, organising, and structuring copious information, AI can help save therapists' time, enabling them to allocate more energy and attention to helping more clients effectively.

Integrating AI in Psychometric Assessments could unlock significant advancements, improving the efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility of these evaluations.

One of the biggest impacts of AI in this field would be the administration of psychometric tests. This will not only save professionals’ time but also ensure standardised delivery & scoring for these tests, enhancing the reliability & validity each time. With enhanced analytics capabilities, AI can help therapists perform sophisticated analysis of assessment data, including but not limited to identifying patterns & trends. One could also leverage AI to craft tailored assessment questions, ensuring a more precise & personalised evaluation.

AI-assisted tests can potentially democratise access to these assessments, as automated processes can significantly reduce the costs associated with these evaluations. This advancement broadens accessibility and inclusivity, allowing a broader demographic to benefit from crucial mental health assessments.

When talking about the numerous benefits AI offers, it is also essential to address its limitations. AI, while holding immense potential to revolutionise psychotherapy, is acknowledged by Stanford University as a "high-stakes area." For example, recent studies show AI’s focus on depressive disorders and schizophrenia, leaving a gap in understanding its application across various mental health conditions.

The intricate nature of AI, involving algorithms and extensive data, also raises concerns about potential biases and inaccuracies.

In conclusion, despite existing limitations and challenges, the transformative power of AI to enhance psychotherapy and mental health care is undeniable. When we talk about integrating artificial intelligence into mental health services, we are addressing an innovation that would rapidly advance the reach & accessibility of mental health services. Though we’re far from replacing a therapist with AI, it holds the promise of augmenting the indispensable human connection that psychologists provide.

This article is authored by Anmol Arora, founder & CEO, DocVita.

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