Digital psychiatry: Risks and opportunities for public health and wellbeing

Common mental health disorders are rising globally, creating a strain on public healthcare systems. This has led to a renewed interest in the role that digital technologies may have for improving mental health outcomes. One result of this interest is the development and use of artificial intelligence for assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health issues, which we refer to as “digital psychiatry.” This work focuses on the increasing use of digital psychiatry outside of clinical settings, in the following sectors: education, employment, financial services, social media, and the digital wellbeing industry. We analyze the ethical challenges of deploying digital psychiatry in these sectors, emphasizing key problems and opportunities for public health, and offer recommendations for protecting and promoting public health and wellbeing in information societies.