As part of SVIHK’s public talk series and under the Mental Health Initiative, Meg Lam, CEO of Neurum spoke on 18 February to a cross-sector audience on the role of technology in assessing and delivering mental health solutions, as well as intersections with Future of Work trends and digital behavioural health research.

Meg highlighted that mental health is a topic that affects all of us and ranked in the top 5 Future of Work focuses at Davos 2019.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1 in 4 of us will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in our lives. According to a report on Hong Kong published by Oliver Wyman earlier in 2019, over 85 percent of workers suffer from presenteeism, causing around HKD 6 to 12 billion in lost productivity to employers annually. There is a major gap in employer support, with only 8 percent believing that their workplace has good support in this area.

What constitutes poor mental health? There is a common misconception that it is all about feeling low. According to the WHO’s definition, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Current problems in the field of mental health include stigma, knowledge gap, one-size-fits all mentality and poor access to effective solutions.

Meg proposed that this is where technology comes into play. Technology is not the end solution, she reinforced, but rather a vessel of delivery and means of designing and deciding on solutions. Some potential solutions include raising awareness through educational online resources to reduce stigma, improving the screening process and personalised care – through digital behavioural data and interaction with connected devices such as digital fingerprinting – and increasing access to care through telemedicine.

Furthermore, Meg expressed that mental health issues and solutions do not exist in a vacuum. It is important to build trust to drive social acceptance and create impact with higher efficacy and reach. Appropriate standards are needed for good practices and evaluation. Collaborations between NGOs, research institutes, start-ups, multinational corporations, patients and other stakeholders play essential roles in the development of digital mental health information and support by leveraging the strengths and resources of multiple disciplines.

From a Shared Value perspective, it is also critical to understand the business impact of mental health risks and measure the effectiveness of well-being programmes, in order to truly improve the state of mental well-being in the organisation and recognise this as a strategic priority.

This talk was co-organised with and hosted by The Executive Centre, an Industry Member of Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong.