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Mental Health Update: Combating Depression In College Students With iSee

Update Date: Jan 16, 2017 03:18 AM EST

According to a 2015 survey, more than 90,000 college students in the US are suffering from depression. More and more college students are reported to be depressed and are seeking help from campus health services. However, as the number of depressed college students increases, there are fewer sources that provide primary care for the students.

With this alarming issue, researchers from Michigan State University are looking into the use of mobile technology in combating depression in college students. They are developing an app called iSee, which combines the uses of mobile technology and wearable technology to identify and treat mental illnesses like depression.

According to the researchers, once the iSee program is deployed, college students are required to wear a smart watch and carry a smartphone at all times. These mobile devices are equipped with GPS sensors that monitor where the college students are, a light sensor to monitor light levels around the students, and an accelerometer to monitor physical activities of the student. Frequency and interaction of the college students with their smartphones are also monitored.

Data collected from these mobile devices help indicate the mental well-being of the student. Constant monitoring and analysis of the date by a computer program also helps identify the severity of the mental illness of the college students. It also helps to accurately and completely diagnose the mental state of the students that cannot be observed by clinicians or are inaccurately shared by the students themselves.

The use of mobile technology in combating depression would reach more college students who are currently suffering depression or do not know they are depressed. In addition, with the recent cuts in budget affecting campus health services, overworked professional care providers would be able to monitor students whenever and wherever.

In addition, due to the constant monitoring of the students, the program used to analyze their data can give appropriate in-moment therapies. These in-moment therapies give students reminders or suggestions to possible activities that will get them out of their funk.

The researchers are highly positive that with the use of mobile technology and the eventual success of iSee, college students would become healthier and stay healthy throughout their duration in college.

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