E-Mental health: Evidence-based and safe?

Rennes, France

11 December 2018 - 11 December 2018

12th eMEN seminar organised at the famous French School of Public Health (EHESP)

A number of high-level stakeholders gathered in Rennes for the 12th eMEN seminar on 11 December. The topic of this seminar was ‘E-mental health: evidence-based and Safe? Ethical, legal and quality issues’, opened by Jean-Luc Roelandt (Director WHOCC-EPSM Lille Metropole), and the Medical Director, Elizabeth Sheppard, and Director, Bernard Garin, of the Guillaume Régnier Hospital of Rennes. It was a very interesting day with state-of-the-art presentations from speakers from France, the Netherlands and the UK.

The seminar included a discussion about ethics and how these must be fully integrated into e-mental health developments and implementation by all stakeholders (based on ‘low’ and ‘high’ ethics). We must not forgot to look at the unintended consequences of new technologies and make sure that all citizens will benefit from this technology (e.g. being accessible and affordable). The importance of finding global consensus on (bio)ethics was also discussed - e.g. social rating systems and developments in the field of gene editing technology and their impact on privacy and global competition. It was also mentioned that human contact is an important element in the health care system. This can never be automated, not even by Artificial Intelligence. However, the latter will transform health systems in the coming years.

New developments in the field of transdiagnostics were also presented. Transdiagnostic treatment focuses on the underlying dimensionality to mental disorders (comorbidity as a rule) and could lead to more targeted interventions in the future.

The potential of e-mental health is large. There are currently more than 325.000 eHealth apps available in the world; in 2017 over 80.000 health apps were added to the app stores (mostly activity trackers and apps for controlling food intake and diabetes). However, quality, data safety and reliability is not clear in many cases. It was emphasized that the eMEN project focuses on e-mental health products for professional use and does not compete with the many ‘wellness’ apps.

This seminar showed that the door for e-mental health is slowly but surely opening in France and that more and more stakeholders are getting involved – it is crucial that the mental health care sector itself takes the lead in this process (not the large multinational internet companies with a different business case for the patient). It is expected that the use of this technology in France (for clinical mental health treatment) will quickly increase in the coming years. The eMEN project is supporting this development.     

The seminar was moderated by Karine Lefeuvre (EHESP), Déborah Sebbane (Lille University Hospital, WHOCC-EPSM Lille Metropole) and Oyono Vlijter (eMEN project leader) and closed by the Deputy Mayor of Rennes, Charlotte Marchandise and The Director of EHESP, Laurent Chambaud. They both very much appreciated that the eMEN project partners organised this event at EHESP in Rennes.

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