Helping People Live Better Lives
What impact do you want to have on the world and why?
I want to revolutionize how the world approaches mental health. The mind is what makes us human - so why do we take so little care of it?
I want to create a future where taking care of your mental health is as normal as working out. A world where technology can improve mental health, rather than detract from it. I want to help everyone live a happier, more fulfilling life.
I believe there are three main factors to why people don’t take care of their mental health: stigma, lack of education, and difficulty tracking what’s effective. Below, I discuss how to address these issues.
De-stigmatizing mental health:
Caring for mental health is more than just treating mental disorders. It also includes positive actions to improve our cognitive, emotional, and behavioral health.
To stay healthy, we proactively take care of our body. We brush our teeth, eat healthy, and wash our hands. The mind is just another part of the body. By spreading this idea, we can make taking care of mental health as commonplace as exercise.
Even among those who want to improve their mental health, many people don’t know what you can actually do to improve your well-being.
There are many scientifically-backed practices that can improve your mental health, such as meditation, gratitude journaling, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some groups like the Greater Good Center at UC Berkeley have compiled lists of these practices. By spreading awareness, we can teach people how to care for their mental health.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. This is particularly true for mental health, where it’s hard to detect small changes in day-to-day well-being. Even if you don’t consciously feel like a practice is effective, it could be subconsciously improving your mood.
Without a way to measure your progress, it’s hard to stay motivated on practices that supposedly improve your mental health. It’s also essentially impossible to determine which of the hundreds of practices are most effective for you as an individual.
I believe this is where technology can make a huge difference.
Because it’s hard for humans to detect subtle nuances in mood, we can use technology to solve this problem. For example, my lab researches ways to monitor mental health through passive data sources such as phone usage behavior, voice data, and other biometrics.
By improving the way we measure mental well-being, we can help people determine what practices work best for their mental health.
On a philosophical front, I think the pursuit of happiness is one of the most important aspects of human life. It’s something that every human struggles with.
We’ve used technology to tackle many of humanity’s struggles, from communication to education. But despite these gains, mental health is one field that has been sorely neglected by the ongoing technological revolution.
I believe in our power to do better. I want to use technology to make everyone happier and healthier.