mental health

Protecting personal data for mental health apps

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San Francisco, USA – The COVID-19 crisis has exposed an enduring silent epidemic and greatly accelerated the need for a properly funded and functioning global mental health ecosystem. New ethical questions about safety, efficacy, equity and sustainability are being raised by groups worldwide.

Over 10,000 mental health apps are currently on the market, but regulations are not robust enough to protect against the sharing of sensitive consumer data or measure the quality of disruptive technologies such as AI-based chatbots, therapy in virtual reality, or digital phenotyping.

‘Protecting consumers’

The World Economic Forum and Deloitte launched Tuesday the Global Governance Toolkit for Digital Mental Health: Building Trust in Disruptive Technology for Mental Health.

The toolkit aims to provide governments, regulators and independent assurance bodies with the tools to protect personal data, ensure high quality of service, endorse effective outcomes and address safety concerns.

Stephanie Allen, Global Health Care Sector Leader, Deloitte, said: “This initiative is about protecting consumers, enabling them to more easily assess quality mental healthcare, helping them make more informed choices about their own mental health, and encouraging the strategic growth of safe, ethical and effective digital mental health services.”

Importance of trust

These tools include a framework of governance principles, standards and processes, along with a code of ethics and a methodology for adapting these to different jurisdictions’ cultural, legal, medical and clinical situations.

“People are turning to technology solutions to a growing number of challenges,” said Arnaud Bernaert, head of Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum.

Bernaert stressed the importance of trustworthiness and “people are asking the right questions about the services they are using.”

He hopes that this toolkit will be “a resource for governments, businesses and consumers to ensure a safer and more trustworthy future.”

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has partnered in piloting the toolkit.

Governments and regulators can use the toolkit to create principles and standards that encourage the safe, ethical and strategic implementation of digital mental health services by healthcare and insurance organizations. (amm/PR)

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