Building Innovative Community Resources for Mental Health

People involved:
Anirudh Krishnakumar
Jon Clucas
Ariel Lindner
Arno Klein

Keywords: Mental health, Innovative Technologies, Citizen Science

Project description

The Innovative Technologies Lab at the Child Mind Institute in New York is developing and applying technologies such as smartphone apps, wearable devices, and computer games for use in assessing, tracking, predicting, or alleviating mental health disorders in children and adolescents. In partnership with the CRI we are building the world’s largest open, online resource of technologies related to mental health. The goal is to build online tools to help people (1) assess their own mental health through a comprehensive, adaptive questionnaire and (2) find appropriate mental health technologies.

Comprehensive, adaptive, online mental health assessment questionnaire

There are a multitude of survey instruments used for assessing different mental health conditions that are for the most part proprietary, expensive, redundant and limited to one or a few diagnoses. To overcome these limitations, we are building a database of mental health diagnoses, symptoms, and assessment questionnaires, and will derive a comprehensive set of unique (non-redundant) questions from these questionnaires and organize them to create an adaptive, online, free questionnaire. Anyone in the world will be able to use this comprehensive questionnaire to help diagnose and monitor symptoms. Responses to the questionnaire will in turn dynamically update the normative standards used to diagnose and assess symptom severity. These new standards are intended to supplant existing standards that were derived from old, static data sets representing small populations.

Online mental health recommendation tool

For individuals with symptoms of a mental health condition, we intend to build an online tool to direct them to relevant resources and technologies. We have begun manually collecting information on apps, computer games, and community initiatives. To scale this up, we will make use of APIs to access information about relevant smartphone applications in Apple’s and Google’s app stores. We will derive a comprehensive set of queries to search for and organize these apps. The primary challenge will be to provide reliable quantitative measures indicating the relative usefulness of these apps. To do so, we will gather information about the apps not just from their source, but from other sources, including biomedical journal articles in PubMed. We will reach out to the developers of the top-ranked apps to complete and verify information about their apps as a quality control of content in the database and refine our evaluation measures.

Our vision is to empower people to not only learn about and track mental health through these consolidated and transparently evaluated resources, but to provide feedback to improve the accuracy of our assessment and recommendation tools.
Publication and deliverables

CRI Research Seminar: Sensors for Tracking Mental Health