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Mental Health & Technology: A Conversation with Alinne Barrera and Steven C...

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California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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Advances in technology and artificial intelligence are changing the way we seek and provide mental health care. Therapists are a click away through digital services such as Talkspace and Crisis Text Line. Psychologists are using virtual reality tools to treat PTSD, and chatbots, like Tess, administer personalized psychotherapy on-demand.

These types of tools can fill in the gaps when there is a lack of mental health provision, but there are also many concerns, including loss of privacy and a lack of regulations. What are the limits of technology in therapy and mental health treatment? How can programmers develop tools that work well for both patients and clinicians? How do we ensure that digital health tools are accessible to low income patients and community health clinics?

Join Alinne Barrera and Steven Chan as they discuss the expanding role of technology in mental health treatment, how digital tools may transform current practices, and the steps we might take to ensure these tools are accessible for our most vulnerable populations.


Alinne Barrera's scholarly work is focused on depression prevention, intervention adaptations, and the use of technology to deliver maternal mental health services and resources. As a trainee, Dr. Barrera built a strong foundation in the identification and treatment of major depression using standardized measures and evidence-based interventions. As a byproduct of her cultural experiences, she is drawn to working with Spanish-speaking and Latinx communities and cultivated a clinical expertise with this population while a pre-doctoral intern at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Trauma Center/University of California, San Francisco. As a postdoctoral fellow, she began to use technology as a method to expand the reach and impact of research endeavors. She was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship to adapt to the Internet a prevention of postpartum depression intervention, the Mothers and Babies Internet Project. Dr. Barrera aims to integrate technology as a tool to meet the needs of perinatal women, especially women with limited resources. Dr. Barrera completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley and her doctoral degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Steven Chan is UC San Francisco's (UCSF) inaugural Clinical Informatics fellow and an actively-practicing physician in psychiatry & behavioral sciences, specializing in mood, anxiety, PTSD, attention, and psychotic disorders. Dr. Chan is an editorial board member for the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Mental Health. Dr. Chan is co-investigator on R01 grant-funded research in the areas of digital mental health, and applications for cultural psychiatry and underserved minority health. Dr. Chan's ideas, thoughts, and research have been featured in JAMA, Healthcare, JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research), Wired, PBS, and NPR Ideastream. Dr. Chan serves as Vice Chair for the Workgroup on Mental Health & Psychiatric Apps at the American Psychiatric Association (APA), a part of the Committee on Mental Health Information Technology, and serves on the Committee of Telepsychiatry.

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California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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