DHA promotes new mental health app at Expo 2020


An new app designed to help people with depression has been highlighted at the UAE Innovates event at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Mindspire, created by students from the American University of Sharjah, won first prize at the Health Hackathon, run by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in 2019.

Since then they've been working with the team at DHA to enhance the app's features to help diagnose and treat patients with depression. 

The app aims to help individuals or those who would like a preliminary screening of their condition and aids in alleviating symptoms, with a focus on anonymity and minimal user intervention. 

Firstly, the non-intrusive analysis continuously collects and consolidates data readily available on the user’s smartphone such as general phone usage, specific application usage (in terms of frequency, duration and active times of the day), typing speed, emoji usage and spellchecks. SMSs, calls,and social media presence is not monitored so as not to invade privacy. 

The only user inputs required are the daily logging of their thoughts and feelings into the journal on the app (Cognitive Behavior Therapy i.e. CBT recommended tool) through voice notes and they need to indicate their general mood by using a colour wheel (Ekman’s Atlas of Emotion) or with a series of Socratic questioning (CBT recommended method). 

Machine learning algorithms are then used to detect the tone and associate a mood with journal entries as well as reveal repetitive thinking patterns. This information, in conjunction with background analysis, can be used to find an individual’s biorhythms, identify periods of declining mental health, recognise times of generally more productive behavior and provide personalised recommendations based on the severity of their condition.

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