Trustworthy Assurance of Digital Mental Healthcare

As many organisations continue to grapple with the long-term impacts on mental health and well-being from the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number are turning to digital technologies to increase their capacity and try to meet the growing need for mental health services. However, there is a culture of distrust surrounding the development and use of digital mental health technologies (DMHTs) that could prevent many users from accessing digital tools or services that could lead to improved outcomes.

Over the course of June 2021 to July 2022, a research team at the Alan Turing Institute (led by Dr Christopher Burr) worked with a wide-range of stakeholders—University administrators, UG students, regulators and policy-makers, developers, researchers, and users with lived experience of DMHTs—to identify and understand which ethical values matter to the groups when they evaluate DMHTs. A primary objective of this project was to co-develop a methodology for providing clear and justifiable communication about how these ethical values have been considered and embedded within the design, development, and deployment of DMHTs, in order to provide assurance of trustworthiness to the relevant stakeholders.

The key findings and recommendations are outlined in an upcoming policy report—to be published at the end of October. However, in this talk I will go through some of the findings and recommendations of most interest to academic researchers and healthcare professional (e.g. psychiatrists), and note where there is ongoing need for interdisciplinary research.