Sept. 19. 2023

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The mental health crisis in the U.S. has reached a fever pitch with an estimated one in five adults experiencing some form of mental illness, according to the NIH. For Dr. Carl Marci, the dire need for new mental health solutions has propelled him throughout his 30-year career as both a practicing psychiatrist and clinical researcher.

Now the chief psychiatrist at OM1, a health tech company focused on using real-world data and AI to enhance medical research, Marci is mining the company’s mental health data network, which includes over 3 million patients from 2,500 clinics, for “information to measure and predict outcomes, accelerate medical research and improve clinical decision making,” a colleague said.

One of Marci’s most recent projects involved developing an AI model to identify the roughly 30% of patients with major depressive disorder that are resistant to treatment, to improve diagnosis timelines. Some of Marci’s research has uncovered that “a low credit score is associated with higher disease burdens that persist for longer periods,” and that disparities in outpatient treatment remains a major contributor to disparate mental health outcomes for Black patients in the U.S., according to a colleague.

However, Marci’s dedication to patients extends far beyond the bounds of his work at OM1. Knowing that mental health services would remain pivotal for patients at facilities where he worked during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Marci provided high-quality N95 masks for the staff through his personal network and at his own expense,” so they could continue providing care,” a colleague said.

In his spare time, Marci also serves as a member of the Neuroscience Advisory Committee at the Peabody Essex Museum where he explores how neuroscience informs the way we experience art to make exhibits more engaging; as chair of the Endowment for the Advancement in Psychotherapy, raising money to support the training of psychiatry residents; and as a fellow in the Aspen Global Leadership Network, where he recently published his first book, “Rewired: Protecting Your Brain in the Digital Age,” a colleague said.

In Marci’s words

Neuro breakthroughs

After a few decades of incremental improvement, there appears to finally be a wave of new medications and digital therapeutics that are based in neuroscience with novel mechanisms that have the potential to help people get better faster and stay better longer.

Improving mental health outcomes

I worry that we have come to accept mediocrity and poor outcomes in mental health. If someone comes into the emergency room with an open wound, we don’t stitch half of it and stop because insurance runs out. Yet in mental health, far too often, we accept a partial response as a good outcome. We need to do better.

AI’s future

The ability of AI and data science applied thoughtfully to health information to accelerate a transformation in how we think about and treat mental illness is extremely exciting. There are not enough psychiatrists on the planet to meet the growing need. We will need technology to help us get through this crisis.