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UCLA collaborates with universities, industry and advocates to advance digital sensing tools and practices in mental health research and care

More than 50 leading mental health and computer science researchers, industry experts, advocates and funders from six countries came together at UCLA Feb. 28 – March 2, 2023 to collaborate on a shared vision and common goals for digital sensing technologies in mental health research.

The Digital Sensing Workshop was organized by five researchers and sponsored by the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, Wellcome Trust and the National Institute on Mental Health.

The two-day workshop considered four main areas: digital infrastructure, data flow, research study design and reporting and users’ perspective, and aims to publish recommendations on digital sensing principles and standards for mental health research, with inputs from stakeholders. 

“The integration and use of sensing technologies in personal devices provides tremendous opportunity to more broadly scale mental health research and connect potential clinical assessments to participants and patients,” said workshop co-organizer Nelson B. Freimer, director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge. “With the rising interest and utility of digital sensing for mental health, we saw a valuable opportunity to collaborate toward a shared vision and approach.” Simona Carini from UCSF, Matthew Hotopf from King’s College, David Mohr from Northwestern University and Tanzeem Choudhury from Optum Labs at United Health Care served with Freimer as lead organizers.

“The workshop was generative of new thinking, idea sharing and connection,” said Freimer. “We are very grateful to our co-sponsors Wellcome and NIMH and to all our participants for their extraordinary commitment of their time and expertise. They provided robust insights to the opportunities and challenges in digital sensing for better understanding and treating mental health.”

Participating researchers and experts joined from 29 different universities, businesses and organizations, including:


Duke University
Federal University of Pelotas
Georgia Tech
Harvard Medical School
Northwestern University
University of Antioquia
UC Berkeley
UC Irvine
University of Manchester
University of Memphis
University of Washington
Technical University of Denmark


Ellipsis Health
Otsuka Pharmaceuticals

Other Organizations/Agencies

Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative
Digital Medicine Society (DiMe)
Food and Drug Administration
One Mind
South Africa Human Sciences Research Council