AI in mental health treatment has potential but faces challenges: WHO

A World Health Organization report identified artificial intelligence as a tool that can support mental healthcare through planning and automation. However, it also highlighted a number of challenges with technology in mental healthcare.

The report — "Regional digital health action plan for the WHO European Region 2023–2030" — stated that AI tools could be utilized to automate big data and lead to breakthroughs in mental health research, according to a Feb. 6 news release from the WHO. 

"Given the increasing use of AI in healthcare, it is relevant to assess the current status of the application of AI for mental health research to inform about trends, gaps, opportunities and challenges," David Novillo-Ortiz, PhD, regional adviser on data and digital health for WHO/Europe and a co-author of the study, said in the release. 

However, the report also raised concerns about the lack of transparent reporting on AI models.

"We found that AI application use in mental health research is unbalanced and is mostly used to study depressive disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. This indicates a significant gap in our understanding of how they can be used to study other mental health conditions," Dr. Ledia Lazeri, PhD, regional adviser for mental health for WHO/Europe, said in the release.

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