NIMH Director: Technology Will Unlock Better Mental Health Diagnostics

By Suzanne Hodsden



Thomas Insel, the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) director, recently announced that he’d move to Google Life Sciences (GLS), effective in November. The Washington Post  (TWP) sat down with Insel and discussed everything from the most recent school shootings to a troubling increase in national suicide rates. Data analytics and effective tracking, said Insel, might hold the key to unlocking earlier and more comprehensive diagnostics and treatments for mental health patients.

Though Insel was careful to emphasize that most mental health issues are non-violent and that not every violent outburst is rooted in mental health, he told TWP that risks of violent behavior are drastically reduced once treatment begins, and recent research suggests that psychotic breaks are preceded by two to three years of struggling.

“We should take a page from our approach to heart disease by identifying who is at the highest risk and developing interventions that preempt psychosis,” said Insel.