Thomas Insel

Today we’re diving into the topic of Mental Health. It’s a topic we’ve covered before on this program, like in episode 63 with Dale Beerman of Think Pacifica, and in episode 21 with Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh from Brain Power. In those episodes, we explored the use of mobile apps and wearables, and we looked at some problems that are being solved using these technologies.

We often think of mental health as something that is just that – “mental” health – and the connections to physical health, and even the numbers of people who die due to poor mental health, are often under appreciated. We also know that if we increase activity and physical exercise it can help relieve symptoms of stress and improve aspects of our mental health. Wouldn’t it be great if there were tools available that could help measure and quantify our mental health based on our physical activities and behaviors? Maybe even serve as an early warning system?

Bayer G4A

Well, that’s why I wanted to introduce you to our next guest. His company is doing pioneering work in measurement science to provide continuous, objective measures of cognition and mood that can potentially alert patients and providers to early signs of mental health deterioration.

My guest is Dr. Thomas R. Insel, he is the Co-Founder & President of Mindstrong Health based in California. He is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, and previously he was a Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, a Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, and a leader of Verily’s Mental Health Team. Tom’s here to tell us about the research and work they’re doing at Mindstrong Health to use information from cell phones to drive better, earlier and deeper understandings about mental health.

I was introduced to Tom my Marco Mohwinckel and George Goldsmith over at Compass Pathways, a UK-based company working to develop treatments to empower patients suffering with mental illness. They are doing that by combining neuroscience, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and digital platforms. Thanks Marco and George for the introduction to Tom.

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Today's Topics

  • The relationship between Physical Health and Mental Health
  • Where does Mental Health space sit in the Healthcare Ecosystem
  • Dr. Insel's work in Mindstrong and an introduction to Digital Phenotyping
  • How does Digital Phenotyping work and how will it assist in understanding and solving mental health issues
  • The current business model of Mindstrong Health, where they are now, and how can consumers and organizations interact with their projects
  • Where will Mental Health be years from now in relation to the developments of this new technological intervention

Links and Resources Mentioned

Lightning Round Answers

1- What is a saying, quote or phrase that motivates you?

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.” – Bill Gates

2- What advice do you have for others working to innovate in healthcare?

Companies die of indigestion much more often than malnutrition. It's not about how much money you can raise, it's about how focus you can get and how excellent your products are.

3- What book do you recommend to our listeners?

Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of The Berlin Airlift-June By Richard Reeves

4- What is a piece of technology that you recommend to our listeners?

Electric Powered Cars

5- If I gave you a check for $5 million for you to invest in health technology today, how would you invest it?

I will invest it in a global non-profit organization focusing on Mental Health in countries around Southern Asia and Central Africa.

6. We make a contribution to a charity in appreciation of your time on the show – what charity have you selected and can you tell us a little about what they do?

Autism Science Foundation 

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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.

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