The world is experiencing a mental health crisis that is in need of immediate attention. In 2017, within the United States alone, an estimated 43 million people (18% of the population) had a mental illness and 9.6 million people experienced thoughts of suicide. About fifty-six percent of such adults did not receive the treatment they needed due to a variety of socio-cultural and economic factors including lack of access to healthcare, a shortage of providers, and a fear of the stigma that may be associated with treatment. Beyond diagnosed mental health conditions, it is estimated that at least 3 out of 5 people have had experiences of mental illness. These statistics hold for global populations as well.
The genesis of mental health conditions is instructive as well. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 50% of mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% of mental illness begins by age 24. The National Association on Mental Illness in the US tracks suicide as the 3rd biggest cause of death in ages 10-24; 90% of these individuals had an underlying mental illness. These ages are some of the most technologically connected segments of our life span, providing unique opportunities for technological solutions to play a key role in addressing this crisis.
Globally, governments, clinical institutions, and technology companies are starting to respond to this escalating crisis. Some examples include: Governments (especially in Europe) starting to establish cabinet level positions for Mental Health, mental health education becoming required in school grades K-12 at a rapidly increasing rate, and partnerships by clinical institutions with communities around general care and prevention. Technology has enabled easier remote access to both active listeners and counselors and psychiatrists through text and video channels.
We are at the dawn of technology supporting good self-care and other-care, especially towards good mental health. The mental health crisis is a huge opportunity for the research, design, and deployment of AI/ML-assisted systems to improve good mental health at scale.
This domain comes with unique challenges. In several mental health scenarios, there isn’t a high degree of agreement between experts on the ground truth of a situation, and culture and its dynamism adds complexity. Datasets can be small or noisy as they capture human expression during periods of desired change. There are often several effective paths forward in any given situation, and not just one “best move”. There is a large cohort of trained providers who would like to use technology well to expand their scale, and to augment their efficacy. There are several other community-centered ecosystems - school, work, religion, others - that play a key role in good mental health and can benefit from technology that leverages their presence. And technology can augment all aspects of fostering good mental health: awareness, assessment, mediation, and maintenance.
This workshop will bring together industrial and academic experts and researchers and field practitioners to elucidate problems, solutions, and paths forward. We invite short papers (anywhere from 2-4 pages + citations) that speak to the topic of designing digitally assisted systems for good mental health. Papers should be submitted here through June 10, 2020. Submissions must be in PDF format and formatted according to the new Standard ACM Conference Proceedings Template. Accepted papers will be published online, and will not be considered archival. Some topics that your papers might cover include the following (note that this is not a restrictive list!)
Workshop paper submissions
Workshop paper notifications
The talks will be structured as: What’s the problem you are trying to solve, what you learnt (and can teach us), what do you think the important problems to solve are.
The panel will discuss 3 key questions in the area, which will be clustered from the topics of the papers, and general open issues in the area. There will be 10 minutes of discussion per question roughly, for 30 minutes in total, followed by 15 minutes of discussion with the room.
This session will conclude the workshop in a generative manner. With 20 minutes, different groups will work on enumerating open problems for different aspects identified during the day, and connecting them with ML techniques or open research problems. We will synthesize these group results into a larger research map for the space that participants can take away with them for inspiration.