The world’s largest eMental Health collaborative event focusing on digital mental health took place over two days on November 10th and 11th, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand.
eMental Health International Collaborative
The congress is an annual event founded in 2014 and is organized by eMental Health International Collaborative (eMHIC), an international group of leaders and experts with a mission –
“to support collaboration and knowledge exchange as a single international point of reference for key eMental health leaders and associated sectors who can improve and support the conditions for mental health and addiction.”
eMental Health International Congress 2022
The theme for the congress was ‘Mental Health’s Transformation Bringing the Digital Ecosystem to Life.’ The congress brought together 31 speakers across ten countries and six industry groups, including government, non-profit organizations (NGOs), and the private sector.
The agenda supported the theme and encompassed a comprehensive range of topics covering new innovations and emerging developments, government and private sector initiatives, frameworks, policies, and sharing of best practices.
The sessions included initiatives by governments around the world, reducing the stigma attached to mental health, product innovation, reaching remote communities, understanding what anti-racism and anti-oppression (ARAO) are, as well as international phone and text helplines, law and ethics, parenting and families and pioneering change.
Who’s who at the Congress?
Dr. Julie Smith and Dr. Roger McIntyre hosted the two keynote presentations during the conference.
Dr. Julie Smith, a UK psychologist and a number one Sunday Times Bestseller in 2022 with her book ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?‘. Dr Smith is on a mission to make mental health education more accessible to all.
She also campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and uses social media to promote this cause. Her keynote presentation was titled ‘Social Media and eMental Health.’ Dr Julie is somewhat of an expert on this subject, as she has achieved over one billion views across her six million followers on various social media platforms.
Dr. Roger McIntyre is a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and the Executive Director of the Brain and Cognition Discovery Foundation. He has been named by Clarivate Analytics eight years in a row in its publication ‘The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.’
Dr. Roger McIntyre is also an author and researcher and has extensive involvement in medical education. His keynote presentation was titled ‘Technology and psychiatry closing the gap during the pandemic in the United States.’
More funding is required for mental health services
Psychiatric care is often misunderstood and underestimated. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in June 2020 that most governments mental health budgets accounted for just 2% of their total health budget.
This 2% is primarily spent on psychiatry services, so looking at digital delivery and models of psychiatry care is imperative. The WHO also reported that many countries do not have adult or child psychiatry training programs.
It is hoped that technology will play its role in finding an optimal and cost-effective solution for this urgent need.
Positive steps forward
My Mind News reported in October that there are 4.7 billion social media users and that social media addiction is similar to any other kind of addiction. 30% of US population identifies themselves as addicted to social media.
Many fear today that social media and technology will become the main contributor to mental health conditions in the younger generations and is now the new addiction. Yet technology has a positive role in all parts of our health services solutions. Many solutions are often unseen by the majority of us.
This vital collaboration that shares current thinking, lessons, and learning is valuable and a significant step forward.
The underlying objective for eMHIC, its members, and all the conference attendees is to design and create solutions that positively use technology to be part of the solution, not the main contributor and cause of mental health issues.