Meet the Leader

Achieving high-definition mental health care using digital technologies

Masaya Ito (PhD.)
National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry
National Center
for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Research
Manager, Department of Research and Development

We all know that mental health is a major universal issue, and it has been so for way too long. The prospect does not seem optimistic either as depression or anxiety, in particular, appears to be a continuing burden for all humanity.

There has been a considerable amount of research to address this, and we now know which psychotherapies are effective. This means that we are approaching an era where we could deliver care for those in need with greater confidence.

However, mental health care such as psychotherapies is by no means a panacea. A certain percentage of people do not recover sufficiently with the currently available methods.

Little is known about “What has an effect on whom, and how”. And when we talk about therapist training, the amount of time and effort it demands is too immense.

An overwhelming number of people are still suffering today, and there are many who want to help, yet tragically support is far from being sufficient.

And so, we asked ourselves “What can we do for a breakthrough?” Psychotherapy is based on communication between people.
Words, voices, facial expressions, gestures, places, contexts, relationships, stories, and so on…

Research has not made many attempts to take advantage of these data despite its high density and various characteristics. In recent years, however, many ambitions to collect large quantities of data have been emerging in various fields, and it has been used to effectively identify phenomena or predict outcomes.

Our research area also uses this approach. We thought that by using these cutting-edge information science technologies, we could analyze and leverage underappreciated modes of data, such as verbal and auditory data to identify mental states and predict psychotherapy outcomes.

We hope that by developing such fundamental technology, we could add on the digital capacity to a mental health care system which is now largely dependent on human expertise.

An ambitious approach to leverage a wide variety of data, rich in resolution and quantity to achieve a new level of effective mental health care. This is what we are aiming to develop, “Ultra-high-definition Mental Health Care”