Thomas Insel has been the director of the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years. But in a recent statement, the director has announced that he will be leaving the National Institute of Health (NIH) at the end of October to join Google.
According to the Washington Post, Insel is making the move in order to better investigate the technological solutions that can be offered for today’s mental health problems.
Insel has been no stranger to the press as of late. In the wake of the many mass shootings that have transpired across America, he has been one of the major forces behind Obama’s BRAIN, initiative, a White House-based initiative that seeks to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and the injuries and disorders that plague it. He has also been seen as a controversial figure in the initiative, as he has been pushing for an overhaul in the way that mental illness is investigated and diagnosed among patients.
In his announcement, Insel made it clear that his plans to step down were not a means of retirement; rather, his decision to join the Life Sciences division of Google reflected his desire to pursue more technological solutions to mental health issues.
Google has been undergoing many changes these past few months, and Insel is yet another addition to their new chapter. Just this summer, Google announced their plans to slowly restructure their company, turning into “Alphabet”. Now, Insel’s research expertise and understanding of the human brain will fully equip Google’s Life Sciences division with the insights it needs to go even further.
Within his position, Insel plans to use technology to understand psychosocial health. For example, he feels that the precise monitoring of mental health is now possible, thanks to technology.
With approximately $113 billion spent on mental health costs per year within the United States, or 5.6% of the country’s total health spending, this could mean remarkable changes for the industry as a whole.
Through this monitoring, Insel believes that the aid, detection, and alleviation of these maladies could come sooner for patients suffering from severe mental health issues.