Caleb Chiu , CTO and Co-founder of Neurum shares his experiences and tips for developing Mental Health solutions in Hong Kong.

  • 1 in 4 people that should be diagnosed with a form of mental illness do not get help.
  • 300 million adults suffer from depression, but 37% receive no treatment at all and wait an average of 8 years before seeking help.

These statistics highlight the magnitude of the issues but it strips away all the emotional and physical damage mental health detriments can carry for those suffering, and their family and friends. A year ago, upon encountering a personal experience with mental health I decided to move back to Hong Kong with the goal of using my experience and skill-set in tackling the various problems in this space.

Over the past month, I have been privileged to have worked with the Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong. Trained as a computer scientist and publishing multiple consumer applications, I was asked to share what I’ve learnt along my journey and my opinion on the key elements needed for an effective mental health solution.

Mental Health Hong Kong

Advocacy and psychoeducation

Perhaps one of the most important elements is the ability to educate what it means to have a mental illness and to be mentally healthy. A lot of prejudice and stigmatization of mental illness is caused by poor media portrayal and scarce knowledge on the subject; self and public stigmatization is a significant factor affecting whether a person suffering reaches out for help. It is important that we learn that it’s absolutely ‘okay not to be okay’.

Guide the person along the journey

Experiencing a mental illness is like a journey with a winding series of stages. Understanding the different impact of these stages helps us to manage them better and move towards recovery. For example, if a person suffering has strong self-stigmatization and denial, it would likely be more effective to provide general psycho-education before receiving an in-person intervention. With mental health solutions, it is not only important to administer an intervention but also be able to guide the user to the next step throughout their entire journey in receiving further support and recovery.

Detection and assessment

Mental illnesses cause irreversible neurological changes that affect a person’s behaviour. However, often when visible symptoms show, it is already too late. So it is important for any mental health solutions to facilitate the detection and assessment of mental health detriments to enable early intervention. At Neurum, we leverage behavioural data and from those connected devices and machines learn to detect depression signals before visible symptoms show allowing us to deliver interventions and continuous assessments in a timely manner.

Respect and compassion

User-centricity is at the heart of all effective solutions. Any mental health solution should acknowledge, encourage and most importantly respect the person for taking the steps despite the adversities. After all, the journey of recovery and acceptance of seeking support is a long, hard and courageous path.

Bio

Caleb is the co-founder and CTO of Neurum – the company that delivers behavioural health insights using real-world and real-time data. Caleb is an ex Bloomberg LP full-stack software developer specializing in cross-platform development. Having previously founded a government-backed mental health tech startup, he is passionate about the intersection between mental health and technology. Graduating from Imperial College London, Caleb has published several applications throughout his career; one notable app is “Taxi HK”, which became Hong Kong’s 2nd Top Overall Free App within 12 hours. Caleb then went on to publish Hiyo – an anonymous chat to get real-time advice from strangers for both Android and iOS, obtaining over 6000 organic users within half a year.