Exploring Psychedelics and Digital Mental Health Interventions

Diagnoses and mental health conditions are becoming increasingly complex. Researchers and clinicians are looking to novel approaches, such as digital mental health tools and psychedelics, that can help us better understand and treat mental illness and substance use issues. HRI is working with leading scientists, clinicians and others to explore emerging treatment modalities that may hold promise.

Digital Mental Health Interventions and Tools

New mental health apps and digital tools are created every day. But decision-makers struggle to determine which tools should be used and scaled with confidence in healthcare systems.

HRI is helping to solve this problem. This work is led by Dr. Yuri Quintana, HRI Senior Scientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who collaborates with international colleagues to improve methods to evaluate virtual mental health interventions. 

Our work benefits healthcare providers, government leaders, and people who design, evaluate, and invest in digital tools. Most importantly, our work will benefit people living with mental illness and substance use issues who use digital tools in their journey to wellness.

We are helping Canada and other countries to develop evidence-informed processes and roadmaps for digital mental health services – from creating policies and regulations to making strategic decisions about funding.

Featured Research on Mental Health Apps

Building a framework to assess mental health apps for youth

Researchers developed a framework to define methods for evaluating digital therapies in a systematic way with respect to efficacy,
data security and app design.

Canadian national
roundtable discussions to
advance regulation of
digital mental health

Two Canadian national roundtables were held to discuss how to improve digital mental health services and apps for safety, efficacy, privacy and security.

Standard metrics to assess outcomes of youth mental health apps

This study aimed to identify which tools are most effective for measuring outcomes among youth who use mental health apps for anxiety and depression.

Psychedelics as Medicine

Psychedelics are psychoactive substances that affect all of the senses, altering a person’s mood, cognition, and perception. Psychedelic-assisted therapies, such as those using ketamine and psilocybin, have emerged in clinical research settings in recent years. Scientists and clinicians are looking to understand the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for treating addictions, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

HRI published a comprehensive review of recent studies on psychedelics as medicine in collaboration with Queen’s University. It examines a range of themes, including Indigenous perspectives, treatment outcomes, health and safety, and implications for public health and policy.

Psychedelic Medicine: A Rapid Review of Therapeutic Applications and Implications for Future Research