In this episode of Digital Health Today, we’re going to switch things up and talk about something that needs more attention and resources: mental health. It’s being talked about more and more as we break down the barriers and stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, and to get this conversation started on this program, I went directly to one of the leaders I had the opportunity to meet several times last year. That leader is Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh, he is a psychiatrist and Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He’s also the innovation officer at Massachusetts General Hospital, Chief Medical Officer of Brain Power – a wearables company focused on developing solutions for children and adults with autism.

He was raised in England and he moved to the United States to pursue his dream of leveraging clinical neuroscience to improve the treatment of people with brain disorders. He is a graduate of Singularity University and he speaks at conferences around the world – I’ve included a few videos of those talks at Exponential Medicine below. Dr. Vahabzadeh was recognized as a ‘40 under 40’ top innovator in 2015, and is working to bring exponential transformational change for global mental health.

Just as I was working to put the final touches on this podcast and release it, some news hit the headlines in the UK about a podcast that Prince Harry did where he spoke about his own personal challenges dealing with the death of his mother. It was a powerful podcast and he was very candid about how the approach he took early in life really caused him to close down emotionally, and how therapy helped him process things and develop a much better mental state. It is so key to have respected leaders on the world stage speaking candidly and openly about the importance of mental health, and I applaud and thank Prince Harry, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for having the courage to share that in his interview. There are a couple links below you should check out showing why and what they're doing to raise the profile of mental health.

Today’s Topics:

  • Defining Mental Health, Mental Wellness and Mental Illness
  • The cost of mental health and mental illness
  • The subjective nature of diagnosing mental illness
  • The challenges and obstacles of getting help to where it is needed
  • The top technologies being developed for mental health applications
  • How regulators are approaching technologies for mental health and wellness
  • What people should do to help themselves or people they care about get the help they need

More about Arshya:

Links and Resources Mentioned

Lightning Round Answers

Q: What advice do you have for other innovators who are working to make a difference in health?

A: 1) Take a close look at your mentors. Respect them, and also understand the perspective that shaped them, and 2) Challenge basic assumptions

Q: What’s a favorite quote or saying that motivates you?

A: “There’s a risk in not taking a risk. If we don’t try to innovate, if we don’t take some risks, the status quo comes with it’s own risk.”

Q: What book do you recommend to listeners and why?

A: I'm big history buff, and love to spend time on Wikipedia

Q: What technology, tool or app would you recommend, and why?

A: My Smartphone with Evernote and Signal

Q: If I gave you $5million to invest in healthcare today, where would you invest it?

A: I'd invest in companies that are identifying mental health issues in people that have chronic health issues, looking at data sets to identify who needs help, what kind and when.

Q: We will be making a financial donation to a charity of your choice. What charity have you selected?

A: I nominate “The Special Needs Network” – Helping children with special needs, LA Area.

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Dan Kendall

Dan Kendall


As an engineer and business leader, I've worked to develop, launch and scale innovative products and solutions that impact health and wellness. As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand what it takes to start a business, build a team, and compete in the global marketplace.

On Digital Health Today, I leverage my experiences to help great leaders and innovators tell their stories and connect to users, investors and other stakeholders.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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