Articles  |  ,   |  October 30, 2019

Digital Psychiatry: Ethical Risks and Opportunities for Public Health and Well-Being

Article by Christopher Burr, Jessica Morley, Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi. University of Oxford – Oxford Internet Institute. 30 pages.


Common mental health disorders are rising globally, creating a strain on public healthcare systems. This has led to a renewed interest in the role that digital technologies may have for improving mental health outcomes. One result of this interest is the development and use of artificial intelligence for assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health issues, which we refer to as ‘digital psychiatry’. This article focuses on the increasing use of digital psychiatry outside of clinical settings, in the following sectors: education, employment, financial services, social media, and the digital well-being industry. We analyse the ethical risks of deploying digital psychiatry in these sectors, emphasising key problems and opportunities for public health, and offer recommendations for protecting and promoting public health and well-being in information societies.