“That’s great – mental health is a massive problem.
Hong Kong needs more people like you”
This is an often-received response. It acknowledges the magnitude of the issue, but connotates that it is people like me that is needed to tackle the global $1 trillion USD issue in lost productivity from depression and anxiety.
By training, I examine how the brain develops, and investigate psychiatric pathologies that arise. However, a jarring gap arose instead. Health does not occur in a lab, which incongruously is where our current metrics are developed. Such gaps mean that uncovering mental health detriment is still largely in the dark. Hence, I pivoted into exploring digital footprints from our everyday connected devices, which collects rich data on how we behave in our everyday environments – starting from the workplace. This ultimately led to the incorporation of Neurum Healthand our flagship workplace companion, Clara.
This pivot led to a fresh intersection of medicine, computer science, and design-thinking; an eye-opener on other disciplines tackling the same hard problems from their own corner, undeniably requiring multidisciplinary collaborations. Each field has strengths to offer another, returnable and innovative upshots, whilst effectively progressing moonshot mental health goals.
Recently, I was fortunate to partner in analogous involvements with Shared Value Project’s mental health initiative:
- Firstly, through a joint hosted visioning and scoping workshop with Accenture. All attendees – from various roles and eight companies – generated innovative solutions in addressing pressing unmet mental health need. Namely: prevention, diagnosis, de-stigmatization, and treatment and support. Thus, illustrating the potentials of joint collaborations, and inherent design-thinking potential regardless of one’s day job.
- Secondly, as a digital mental health expert, and judging panelist at the Intrapreneur Lab hosted by TIL Ventures. This was an ideation process with different corporate organizations in addressing issues such as mental health and climate change in ways that made business sense. The sustainability of each project came from baking the social good as a competitive advantage to each corporation’s mission; for example, ideating new tradable energy products, or through developing engaging and scalable technological solutions for mental health.
Indeed, Hong Kong is not short on mental health pains with its significant shortage of professionals and available resources. However, generation of impactful changes are not contingent on these entirely. Rather, by understanding corporate core competencies (i.e. what are current existing assets at your disposal?) and the ability to align that with profit and large-scale social purpose. By exhibiting elements of entrepreneurship – such as creative problem-solving that generates value – we all have a role to play.
As I am writing this in marking World Mental Health Day, the new face of social responsibility is no longer addressing mental health initiatives as a vitamin, but as it should – a real painkiller alleviating real economic effects on bottom lines and talent retention. Exemplar to this, I highly commend Shared Value Project and Founding Members in sharing their mission and taking a corporate pledge in addressing mental health in the workplace.
Meg is the CEO and Co-founder of Neurum Health – the company that delivers behavioural health insights using real-world and real-time data. To date, she serves on the executive board of Global Innovations and New Technologies (GIANT) Health Events and advisory for Mind HK’s digital health projects. Previously, she completed her research fellowship at Yale School of Medicine (Dept. Psychiatry) which used digital data from sensors and online social interactions from connected devices to find patterns on depressive symptoms. Additionally, co-founded a resident interest group (Psychiatry Technology Group) whichbrought entrepreneurs and professionals from different backgrounds in exploring technology for psychiatry.
As an independent consultant and regular speaker, she is driven in tackling hard problems using multidisciplinary approaches and advocates for mental health literacy.