Tuesday, September 27

Developed an AI project to detect mental health problems in social networks


The University of Jaén (UJA) runs a artificial intelligence project that combines technologies language with psychology in order to develop tools capable of early detection of mental health problems of adolescents in social networks.

The Big Hug project, in which more than a hundred young people between the ages of 12 and 18 participate, is led by Arturo Montejo Ráez, from the Computer Science Department of the UJA and a member of the Intelligent Access Systems research group to Information (SINAI) of the University of Jaén.

Discriminate and identify patterns

The strategy used to establish early detection of a given disorder called “supervised learning” and consists of equipping computers with the ability to discriminate and identify patternson the communications of people already diagnosed, that allow, from several messagesthrow a warning sign.

Once the algorithms have been evaluated, the UJA team plans a second part of the project that consists of ability to design and develop technology with which to help more and better young people and their families.

Apps with applied AI

In this second phase, the research projects the creation of applications capable of identifying risk situations before they pose a serious threat.

The applications used range from installation of parental monitoring tools on the devices of young people, always with their knowledge, to the use of “bot” or conversational agents (virtual assistants) capable of empathizing and collecting clues about the user’s state of mental health.

After announcing that the next step would be to make this ttechnological transfer to societyProfessor Montejo Ráez has concluded: “not only can we develop algorithms and make them work on the computer, but we also have to find a feasible application so that these parents or young people can activate mechanisms to self-evaluate”.

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Related news

This work, funded by the Andalusian Research, Development and Innovation Plan of the Andalusian Government (PAIDI-2020), is based on different studies that confirm the harmful effects of social networks among the younger population, such as anxiety disorders, depression, suicidal ideation, cyberbullying, gambling addiction, or eating disorders.

“During the pandemic we have doubled the time we spend on social media, exceeding the limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and after the pandemic, suicide is already the first cause of death among young people, specifically, between 15 and 29 years old. In Spain there are ten suicides a day, that is, twice as many people die by suicide than by traffic accidents,” says the coordinator of this project.

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