Starting A Conversation To Drive Innovation in Mental Health

Kabir NathPresident and CEO
Real change doesn’t happen when you operate in isolation.To develop innovative solutions to complex problems, it’s important to be surrounded by others who may have different opinions, perspectives, or information and to engage in an open dialog. At Otsuka, we’ve long believed in not only seeking diverse opinions, but encouraging an open discussion between people who hold different beliefs or opinions. Doing so has served us well, and has helped us identify innovative ways to tackle some of healthcare’s biggest issues.We’re now taking that philosophy to Washington.On Sept. 19, 2017, we’re hosting a discussion with members of Congress, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders about driving innovation in the treatment of mental health disorders.  The event, Tackling Mental Health Through Innovation, will include thought leaders from major advocacy groups including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Council for Behavioral Health as well as healthcare professionals from the American Psychological Association.Our hope is to encourage a dialog between these diverse voices about how the industry and advocacy community can collaborate to identify and support opportunities to shape mental health care through innovation and action. We recognize that all stakeholders, from advocates to companies like Otsuka, must work together to ensure that innovative technologies and therapies are identified and developed in ways that will truly meet the needs of patients.The time for such a discussion is now.  Otsuka has long been a leader in the challenging area of mental health. As a company, we have several projects underway that apply new technologies and approaches to mental health treatment, including a pending submission at the US Food and Drug Administration for the first digital medicine. Perhaps because of this commitment, we are all too aware of the many unmet needs of the mental health community.Mental health disorders impact all of us in one way or another. About one in five adults in America will experience a mental disorder at some point in their lives and serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year.  Despite the prevalence of mental health conditions, according to NAMI, about 60% of those adults with mental health illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. There is clearly room for new approaches to improve how people access and receive care.Though innovative digital technologies and approaches are already challenging the status quo in different areas of healthcare, there are still huge untapped opportunities for disruption and advancement in the field of mental health.  Perhaps this lag in innovation is due to the nature of mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia are complex and dynamic diseases. No two people experience these illnesses in quite the same way, therefore complicating the approach to effective treatment.Stigma may also play a role. Not only is mental illness misrepresented in movies, books, and television, but people who suffer from a mental health condition are often unwilling to share or discuss their condition for fear of being judged by others. Without having a public dialog about the actual problems people encounter, it is difficult to identify solutions.The lack of new, innovative approaches may also be due to a breakdown in the communication between the technology community and the mental health community. Our research and first-hand experience has shown us that the men and women who are developing technological solutions for mental health have limited insights into the problems they are solving for.Some of these suspected hurdles, as well as a framework for overcoming them, are outlined in white paper Otsuka helped develop entitled Disrupting Mental Illness: Roadmap for Innovation. Regardless of the cause, we want to be part of the solution. By bringing together groups that often work separately, to encourage that diversity and convergence of thoughts and ideas that is embedded in Otsuka’s DNA, we hope we can identify new opportunities for innovation in mental health that can one day help patients live better and more productive lives.Septhember 2017     01US17EUC0183
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