According to the Sacramento Bee, “Rising suicide rates and depression in U.S. teens and young adults have prompted researchers to ask a provocative question: Could the same devices that some people blame for contributing to tech-age angst also be used to detect it?” This question is leading scientists to think of apps and programs that can monitor a user and warn them when it comes to a mental health crisis.
Often, when one hears that an app or just more screen-time, in general, can help them with their depression, it sounds like a joke.
“It doesn’t seem feasible,” said high school student Arabesque Lynaolu. “I would probably not use an app that claimed it could help cure my depression because I would not believe
that it could.”
However, professionals working on this, such as Dr. Alex Leow, a professor of psychiatry and bioengineering at the University of Illinois, explain that these apps are simply tracking.
“We are tracking the equivalent of a heartbeat for the human brain,” Dr. Leow explained. This is similar to devices that cardiologists are telling their patients to use, that can track and monitor how steady or abnormal their heart rates are.
“Every morning, the device I was given sends a report from my defibrillator that is directly attached to my heart, to the cardiologist, ” said Germelle Watson, a patient with heart failure and a device to monitor it. “The technician checks all of the reports daily and if there is an abnormality, they contact me.”
Although some people find the idea of someone tracking your thoughts and mood to be a direct violation of one’s privacy, others argue that it is worth the risk to save lives in a time where suicide rates are climbing.