Digital Technologies in Psychiatry: Present and Future

Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ). 2018 Jul;16(3):251-258. doi: 10.1176/appi.focus.20180001. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


The digital revolution has reached the world of mental health. Prominent examples include the rapidly growing use of mobile health apps, the integration of sophisticated machine learning or artificial intelligence for clinical decision support and automated therapy, and the incorporation of virtual reality-based treatments. These diverse technologies hold the promise of addressing several important problems in mental health care, including lack of measurement, uneven access to clinicians, delay in receiving care, fragmentation of care, and negative attitudes toward psychiatry. Here, the authors summarize the current and swiftly changing state of digital mental health. Specifically, they highlight the current unmet needs that emerging technologies may be able to address; summarize what digital health can offer for assessment, treatment, and care integration; and describe some of the challenges and some new directions for innovations in this field. The review concludes with guidance for clinicians to integrate digital technologies into their work and to provide responsible and useful advice to their patients.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; diagnostic methods; digital heath; mobile technology; treatment; wearables.

Publication types

  • Review