Dr. Jill Murphy: Harnessing digital mental health to improve equity in mental health care

As a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and executive director of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health, Dr. Jill Murphy says in terms of mental health, there are very few guidelines to follow in the dissemination of mental health services using technology — especially during the pandemic.

“I am struck by the significant gap in access and availability to mental health services in much of the world, including in Canada — and especially for equity-seeking populations,” Dr. Murphy says.

These gaps are tackled in her recent knowledge synthesis, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research’s (CIHR) COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative. Dr. Murphy says the synthesis, which focuses on harnessing digital mental health to improve equity in mental health care in the context of COVID-19 in the Asia Pacific region, is a “launchpad for future research.”

“When we look at the case distribution among racialized populations, it starkly highlights the effects of racialization and racial discrimination in health and healthcare access — including mental health.” Dr. Murphy says.

As part of the knowledge synthesis grant, she works alongside representatives from health ministries and practitioners from across the region. Consultation with people with lived experience is a key component of the knowledge synthesis grant that will be carried forward in future work.

“That’s a really important component that started with this knowledge synthesis grant.” Dr. Murphy says. “People with lived experience of mental illness — but also people who identify as members of equity-seeking populations — have been key participants in this study.”

Learn more about Dr. Murphy’s research as part of the CMH Initiative:

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