Podcast: Tom Insel on the Science and Future of Mental Health

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The story of mental health management is a challenging one to tell. For sure, we don’t talk enough about it as a society, and we don’t yet know enough about the biology, the causes, or the best ways to diagnose and treat mental illness. While the true numbers affected are difficult to precisely determine, those of us touched by mental illness see how severely it can disrupt lives. Treatment is key to the most successful outcomes, and Dr. Thomas Insel, former National Institute of Mental Health director and now president and co-founder at Mindstrong Health, has said over half the people with mental illness don’t pursue available evidence-based treatments. In the US in any given year, approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness, and including substance abuse, that number is 1 in 4. For the age group 15 – 44 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of mortality. It’s time we as advocates, scientists, communicators, and patients do what each of us can do to address mental illness and create the narratives, treatments, and knowledge that lead to healing.

To learn more about the science and management of mental illness as part of the Inscopix podcast series, I caught up with Tom at Mindstrong Health to ask him about our current understanding of mental health and what the future holds for diagnosis and treatment. We talked about how the revolution in artificial intelligence and digital phenotyping through the use of our handheld smartphones will transform the future of how we diagnose and treat mental illness, in addition to how the genomics and neuroscience revolutions will impact our understanding of mental health disorders.

We also spent some time during the interview getting to know Tom better. He has made bold moves in his career, from academia to government and more recently industry. We talked about his background and views on leadership and the communication of science to the public. There’s something interesting here for scientists, the public in general, and patients.

Thanks for listening!

Jami Milton @jamilmilton

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