New Technology to Help Mental Health Patients

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Sarah Peddie

New technology and Artificial Intelligence is to be introduced into the New Zealand healthcare system to help those suffering with mental illnesses.

The nations provisional suicide figures were released this week and in the 2018/19 reporting year, 685 people took their own lives.

A recent Government inquiry into the New Zealand mental health and addiction services highlighted that one in five people suffer from some form of mental illness. This means the services in the country are in high demand.

Those who were spoken to as part of the inquiry had described the system as difficult to access. It was also under pressure due to long waiting times and overworked staff.

One of the remedies people wanted to see was a greater choice of therapies to be on offer. This included online options and the use of technology is being considered by the Ministry of Health. 

University of Auckland professor Sally Merry is part of the team looking into these new types of therapies.

She has already developed a game called Sparx, which is an online programme for teenagers with mild to moderate depression. 

Artificial Intelligence is also making its way into the healthcare world. AI company FaceMe has already seen the benefits it has in helping humans with their mental health.

Their programme includes the use of “digital humans” which provides a new form of conversational support for people suffering with mental health problems. 

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