In 2021, more than 150 million people in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) lived with a problem related to mental health. In recent years, the pandemic caused by SAR-CoV-2 significantly worsened these conditions as people had less access to services. Increased stress, growing economic conditions, conflict and violence have shown just how vulnerable mental health can be.
In parallel, artificial intelligence has led to a real revolution in medicine and healthcare. It is considered a new tool in the planning of mental health services, as well as in the identification and monitoring of mental health problems in individuals and in countries. Tools that work with artificial intelligence can use health data that is available in a variety of different formats.[banner-DFP_1]
The “Digital Health Regional Action Plan for the WHO European Region 2023-2030”, released in September 2022, also recognizes the need to innovate in the field of predictive analytics for health through the use of Big Data and artificial intelligence.
WHO has potential for artificial intelligence in mental health services and research, but a new study has highlighted significant shortcomings that may lead too quickly to the development of new models of artificial intelligence that have not yet been evaluated in the real world.
“The growth of artificial intelligence for the use of health, it is important to assess the current state of the application of artificial intelligence to mental health research and thus report trends, gaps, opportunities and challenges,” Dr. David Novillo-Ortiz, regional. Advisor for Data and Digital Health for WHO regional role in Europe and co-author of the study, explains in a statement.[banner-DFP_4]
“Artificial intelligence is the cornerstone of the next round number”;
The research, developed by a group of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in collaboration with QUI Europe, uses artificial intelligence as a tool to study mental disorders between 2016 and 2021. The work has been published. as “Methodological and quality flaws in the use of artificial intelligence in mental health research: a systematic review”.
“We found that the use of artificial intelligence in mental health research is not balanced and is mainly used for depressive disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.” This means a big gap in our understanding of how to study other mental health conditions”, says Dr. Ledia Lazeri, WHO Europe Regional Mental Health Advisor.
With the enormous capabilities offered by artificial intelligence, policy makers can use data to inform more effective strategies to promote health and improve the current state of mental health. However, this technology often involves the use of statistics, mathematics, and big data that could lead to bias, incorrect interpretation of results, or over-optimized performance in AI if not properly handled.
“Lacks of transparency and regulatory flaws are worrying, while delaying the practical and safe implementation of artificial intelligence. Additionally, engineering data for AI models seems to be ignored or misunderstood, and the data is often not properly managed. These important shortcomings can mean the too rapid promotion of new artificial intelligence models without stopping to evaluate their viability in the real world”, adds Dr. Novillo-Ortiz.
“Artificial intelligence is the cornerstone of the next digital revolution. In this study we were able to see what will happen in the coming years and drive the health care systems to adapt their structures and procedures to advance mental health services”, concludes Antonio Martínez-Millana, assistant professor at the Polytechnic. University of Valencia and co-author of the study.
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