S. Nunnelly

Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights Respecting Mental Healthcare: What Role for Law?

Sophie Nunnelley, SJD, LLM, JD, BA

Award: 2023 Compassion and AI Fellowship

  • Artificial intelligence
  • human rights
  • mental health

Acting Director, University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy, and Ethics

Canada urgently needs better access to mental health services. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been embraced by some as a tool for addressing accessibility problems, e.g., AI-powered chatbots offer therapy, and AI algorithms harness social media data to detect suicidal ideation. While AI holds promise in this context, it raises the significant concern that improperly regulated mental health AI can create and exacerbate inequality. Sophie’s project takes up law’s role in ensuring human rights-consistent AI use in mental healthcare, focusing on laws relating to capacity, informed consent, and non-discrimination. The core of her project will be a workshop of multidisciplinary experts – including AI innovators, people with lived experience, clinicians, legal scholars, and human rights experts – to examine the law and practice of specific mental health AI technologies, the sufficiency of existing rights frameworks, and priorities for law reform.