Uses of artificial intelligence for emotional well-being | Sidhharrth S Kumaar
A form of technology first recognized in 1956, artificial intelligence (AI), has begun to drive a potentially profound change in the way mental illness is detected, diagnosed and treated. The recent boom in the use of telemedicine has accelerated the influence of AI.
However, while several important sectors of society are poised to embrace the potential of AI, caution remains in order in medicine, including psychiatry, as evidenced by recent media headlines like this from The New York Times : “Dark Side Warnings to AI in Healthcare.”
Yet, regardless of the apparent concerns, the applications of AI in medicine are steadily increasing. This also includes the field of mental health.
The big question now is whether AI techniques outweigh the skills and experience of clinical psychologists and other mental health caregivers.
Does artificial intelligence (AI) detect mental health issues better than clinicians?
In just over a decade, almost every section of the medical industry has been ushered into a new generation of digital care delivery.
Shaken by the COVID-19 crisis, the healthcare sector had to quickly find new ways to deliver quality care to patients.
As a result, most of them have turned to a digital world of healthcare solutions such as telehealth.
Telehealth services have given a new ray of hope to patients suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has dramatically increased the use of telehealth,” said Zac Imel, Ph.D., professor and director at the University of Utah, Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at education.
He continued: “Mental health is an area of health care that can be effectively and efficiently delivered through telehealth. All is not lost, and at least some results can be achieved. My program on telehealth has experienced a major change from 0 to 95% students opting for this training.
In fact, more mental health services have been reported to be sought online during the pandemic than other medical conditions during the pandemic.
The pandemic has thus forced scientists to improvise artificial intelligence (AI) technology for its application in the mental health sector.
In the past, various tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants have tested the AI waters.
However, as the demand for consulting services has increased exponentially during the pandemic, the industry has had to turn to more efficient ways to meet the shortage by expanding its use of AI tools.
In an article published by Nida Saddaf Khan, Muhammad Sayeed Ghani and Gulnaz Anjum, entitled ADAM-sense: Anxiety-displaying Activities Recognition by Motion Sensors, a method based on the recognition of human activity is proposed to detect certain behaviors related to ‘anxiety.
A new anxious behavior dataset is also being created with unique features using smartphone motion sensors and the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to create such a model.
Human activity recognition systems recognize human activities based on data transmitted by sensors. This approach has found application in the field of psychiatry, where patients suffer from mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the most common mental disorder is anxiety disorder (AD). AD affects approximately 30% of the adult population at some point in their lives.
The researchers created and compared several models based on deep learning.
A deep model consisting of a convolutional neural network (CNN) and long-term memory (LSTM) outperformed other models and could recognize anxiety-related behaviors with over 92% accuracy.
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Effect of AI on Psychiatry
According to the academic study “Artificial Intelligence for Mental Health and Mental Illness: An Overview”, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information: “If we take advantage of the technologies available today, we can obtain continuous and long-term monitoring of patients’ bio- psychosocial profiles that affect their mental health.
This means that the field of mental health diagnosis and treatment appears to be on the verge of a technological shift that could increase accessibility to enormous amounts of data related to human behavior. Unfortunately, the resulting amount of complex data is too large to be processed effectively by a human mind. However, AI is well suited for this task.
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Benefits of AI in Psychiatry
The doctor’s clinical hours are limited and cannot compensate for the growing needs. Additionally, clinicians are heavily burdened with increased documentation requirements and poor, inefficient technology to support it.
These issues are particularly troublesome for mental health counselors who are forced to rely on their skills to foster a therapeutic relationship with their patients and formulate personalized treatment plans.
In addition to improving the detection and diagnosis of mental illnesses, AI technology offers many other benefits, including:
- Make sense of large and varied data sources
- Enable a better understanding of the prevalence of mental illnesses at the population level
- Discover mechanisms or biological risks, or protective factors
- Provide technology to monitor treatment progress and medication adherence
- Facilitating therapy sessions remotely
- Provide intelligent self-assessment to determine the severity of mental illness
As AI techniques improve, the definition of mental illnesses may become more objective than the current DSM-5 classification scheme. The obvious benefit is that the identification of mental illnesses could occur much earlier, when interventions could be more effective.
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Sidhharrth S. Kumaar is the founder of NumroVani and a licensed pharmacist turned astronumerologist. For more information, visit its website.