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?”

Professor Miranda Wolpert heads the Mental Health Priority Area at Wellcome Trust. The overall vision is a world where no one is held back by mental health problems.

Prof Wolpert is also Professor in Evidence Based Research and practice at UCL and founded the Evidence Based Practice Unit, which is dedicated to bridging research and practice in youth mental health. Between 2012-2019, she was NHS England’s National Informatics Advisor for Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

Prof Wolpert has extensive experience as a clinical psychologist for NHS England and in schools. Her experiences working with young people and families led her to co-found the Child Outcomes Research Consortium, a learning collaboration focused on understanding the impact of mental health and wellbeing support through collecting and using outcome evidence. In 2017, Miranda was awarded an MBE for her services to children and young people’s mental health.

Shuranjeet Singh is the founder and director of Tarakī, a movement working with Punjabi communities to reshape approaches to mental health which he started after his own mental health challenges as a student. Shuranjeet is currently pursuing a Masters in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto through an Oxford-Canada scholarship. His interests lie at the intersections of healthcare, society, and social inequalities. Shuranjeet has recently become more interested in the process of knowledge production in mental health.

Dr. Megan Jones Bell is chief strategy and science of cer at Headspace, a leader in the eld of digital health and a visionary in making mental health care more effective, affordable, and accessible globally.

Prior to Headspace, Megan was chief science of cer and scienti c founder at Lantern, an evidence-based digital mental health company. She is also an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Stanford University. At Stanford, Megan was previously an attending psychologist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, associate co-director of the Laboratory for the Study of Behavioral Medicine and director of the Healthy Body Image Program. Her academic and advocacy work has been recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. House of Representatives, the European Union, and Stanford University, among others.

Megan earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, graduating cum laude from the University of California, San Diego. She received her master’s degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from PGSP-Stanford University, and completed fellowships at Yale University and Stanford University School of Medicine.

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