Mental Health: Do we Need a New Super Science?

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

While stigma around mental health may be diminishing, huge numbers are still suffering in poorer and richer countries alike. This Falling Walls Circle Table examines how science can combat this crisis and enhance mental health around the world.

Today, progress is often painfully slow. Innovations of academia can take many years to translate into interventions to improve patients’ wellbeing. What’s more, treatment of mental health is often a blunt tool, poorly categorising both conditions and patients, while frequently exacerbating stigma.

The Covid pandemic has brought new awareness of the power of technological tools. By connecting experts with tech innovators, this new acceptance can be leveraged to get healthcare to those that need it most. And it is essential that people with lived experiences of mental health problems are a core part of this process, from the very beginning to the end.

This must be tailored to individuals and their needs, whether that’s through SMS based services in poorer countries, or video game based intervention for young people. As Megan Jones Bell puts it, “What is the point of an evidence based intervention that no one uses?”

Obi Felten

X, the moonshot factory

Obi leads early stage projects at X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory. Previously she was Director of Consumer Marketing for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Before Google, Obi launched the ecommerce business of a major UK retailer, worked as a strategy consultant, and led eToys.com’s (unsuccessful) expansion to Germany during the first dotcom era. She set up Campus, a Google-funded space for London tech entrepreneurs.  Obi serves on the board of Springer Nature, a global academic and educational publisher, BfB Labs, a social tech startup designing digital interventions to improve youth mental health, the Wellcome Trust mental health priority area and on the interim board setting up the Healthy Brains Global Initiative. She is also a trustee of Shift, a charity designing products to address social problems.

Obi has a BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Oxford University. She grew up in Berlin and saw the wall come down. She now lives in California with her husband and children. She loves yoga, bicycling, travelling, contemporary art and design, cooking, eating and her family.