More High-tech Surveillance for Better Mental Health?

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High-tech surveillance could help improve people’s mental health cost-effectively, according to a commentary in The Guardian. “[M]any existing capacities of tablets, smartphones and even ‘dumbphones’ can be repurposed to serve diagnostic, monitoring, and therapeutic functions,” writes Connor Farrington. He describes studies showing how people’s mental health status can be assessed through monitoring their calls and texts or algorithmically analyzing other data already being gathered by mobiles. “The Mobilyze! system developed in Chicago, for example, uses 38 smartphone sensor values alongside user input to predict psychological status and deliver tailored therapeutic interventions for unipolar depression.”

“That’s not to say that things can’t get even better in the future,” continues Farrington. “Before long, smartphones will be able to deduce our emotional state from our social interactions and tone of voice, while wearable sensors will measure adherence to ‘smart’ medicines and gather important data on a range of factors relevant to mental health, including sleep quality, cardiovascular status, galvanic skin response and even gait. (It’s been shown that people with schizophrenia have a distinctive way of walking, so it’s not implausible that Andy Serkis-style motion-capture smart clothing could play a role in improving diagnostic accuracy in mental health.)”

How technology could help monitor and treat mental health conditions (The Guardian, August 12, 2014)

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I predict that droves of people will kill themselves in this new high-surveillance society. The horror of being diagnosed by every word we speak and step we take will certainly dampen our enthusiasm for life. What makes people like this reporter believe that the powers that be are really benevolent? Or is it just the money?

  2. It’s been shown that people with schizophrenia have a distinctive way of walking, so it’s not implausible that Andy Serkis-style motion-capture smart clothing could play a role in improving diagnostic accuracy in mental health.

    Thank you, Guardian, for news of this cutting edge science. I don’t know what else to say besides, “GFYS.”