After the 30th edition of La Marató de TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio raised more than nine million euros, it is difficult to question the relevance of mental health. Experts warn that one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem throughout their lives. These diseases represent a very high personal, family and social burden due to the suffering of affected people and the high social and health costs they generate.

One of the recurring debates around this theme is the role of technology in the fight against mental illness. The latest technological advances have allowed improvements in the evaluation, treatment, self-care and monitoring of people with a mental disorder. However, we can not ignore the negative effects that our smartphones and other devices have brought to us: anxiety, low self-esteem, dysmorphia, etc.

Dr. Diego Hidalgo-Mazzei during his speech

The students of the 27th edition of the Master’s Degree in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona School of Management (MCC27) organized the discussion panel “Technology as an ally of mental health” to show the virtues of technology for the treatment of patients with mental disorders. The experts invited to the table were the doctors Diego Hidalgo-Mazzei and Guillem Feixas.

Dr. Hidalgo-Mazzei (@DHidalgoMazzei), a member of the unit of bipolar and depressive disorders of Barcelona Clínic Hospital, explained various projects focused on the development, evaluation and implementation of digital technologies based on evidence on mental health.

“We deal with the variability of people and we have to base our treatments on that” Diego Hidalgo-Mazzei

Dr. Guillem Feixas during his online speech

The researcher presented several tools or applications (some still under development) that take advantage of the capacity of our devices to constantly monitor our behavior: SIMPLe, PRESTO, VickyBot… all of them aimed at collecting information about patients in order to adapt the messages they receive and the treatments they could receive.

The second intervention of the panel was made by Dr. Guillem Feixas (@Guillem_Feixas), from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona. Feixas presented his research on the “Explore Your Meanings (EYME) tool, which assists psychotherapists treating people with mental health problems.

“This project explores the values, identity and conflicts of the people who request the service. EYME systematically analyzes the labels that a person puts on themselves and others, thus achieving personalized treatment” explained Feixas.

“EYME systematically analyzes the labels that a person puts on himself and others” Guillem Feixas

Students of the MCC27

Another of the peculiarities of this project is that the data is presented through 3D images and virtual reality technology, which helps to interpret the relevance of the results in a personal or professional way.

After the question time, the moderator of the event, Justa Martín (@Justa_Martian) concluded the round table. In her farewell, the MCC27 student wanted to warn the attendees that technology can also be harmful to people with mental disorders. Therefore, she remarked, it is important not to forget this aspect when we discuss these types of tools or applications.

Author: Edgar Hans (@querulancia)

Translation: Raúl Alejandro Razura (@AlexRazura)

Este blog cuenta con la colaboración de la Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología – Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación