Phones and mental health: What if an app can tell you if you’re depressed? | Technology Apps

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If you have a sore throat, you can get tested for a host of things — Covid, RSV, strep, the flu — and receive a pretty accurate diagnosis (and maybe even treatment). Even when you’re not sick, vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure give doctors a decent sense of your physical health.

But there’s no agreed-upon vital sign for mental health. There may be occasional mental health screenings at the doctor’s office, or notes left behind after a visit with a therapist. Unfortunately, people lie to their therapists all the time (one study estimated that over 90 percent of us have lied to a therapist at least once), leaving holes in their already limited mental health records. And that’s assuming someone can connect with a therapist — roughly 122 million Americans live in areas without enough mental health professionals to go around.

But the vast majority of people in the US do have access to a cellphone. Over the last several years, academic researchers and startups have built AI-powered apps that use phones, smart watches, and social media to spot warning signs of depression. By collecting massive amounts of information, AI models can learn to spot subtle…

Source www.vox.com

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