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The Future of Mental Health

By Lauren Ford
Posted On Jun 16, 2016
The Future of Mental Health

We’ve all had bad days, and we’ve all posted a Facebook status or tweeted about them. We live in a world where it is easier to share how we are feeling online rather than say it out loud. People will openly share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about their feelings, their plans to do healthy things, like exercise, and their intentions to do unhealthy things like use drugs, but would never dare tell that to their doctors.

Health providers have taken note of this effect and are starting to develop a technology that will allow them to monitor social updates to scan for worrisome posts in order to pre-empt self-harm. They will also be on the lookout for psychological vital signs like anxiety or sadness rather than the norm of physiological vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate. This will also open the door to allow health care providers to monitor patients outside of healthcare settings.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Psychologists and computer scientists are working together to create machines that can quickly identify psychological patterns from millions of social media texts and images and use that information to predict people’s emotions and behaviors. The tools involve advanced computer science approaches like “sentiment analysis indicators” and “behavioral insights on big data.”

Some may see this as a privacy issue, but I for one think it is a great idea. More and more is coming to the light about the importance of mental health. For so long we have put physical health on a pedestal and hoped that a healthy body would equivalent to a healthy mind, but that is clearly not the case.  People can put on an act for an hour in front of their doctors, but people’s online expressions and behavioral patterns can’t lie.

If this technology can help at least one doctor find out if one of their patients is not taking their meds or even worse is on the verge of harming themselves or others, it will be well worth it!