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Researchers at Texas A&M developing wearable technology for mental health

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 18:23:41-05

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M researchers are developing a tool that could allow students to monitor their mental health through their smartwatch.

The research team, led by Farzan Sasangohar, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is developing the monitoring tool called Mental Health Evaluation and Lookout, or mHELP.

"The tool uses advanced machine learning and a wide range of sensors provided on commercial off-the-shelf smartwatches to detect signs and symptoms of high anxiety and direct the smartwatch wearer to resources," according to Texas A&M.

The device would be triggered by anxiety patterns, like your heart rate, and prompt the wearer to start therapeutic activities.

The therapeutic activities include mobile self-assessments, educational content and self-management tools, such as biofeedback and mindfulness exercises.

mHELP will also integrate with in-person and virtual counseling session to help mental health providers guide their patient's treatment plans.

“Mental health is affecting students’ academic success and their overall quality of life,” Sasangohar said. “Mental illness can also affect a student’s motivation, concentration and social interactions, which are all crucial factors for a student to be successful in college and life.”

This program is the first of its kind and could be used as a model for integrating mobile-enabled technologies into mental health care in other communities.

This project is funded by the X-Grants program at Texas A&M through the Office of the President. Funding will be used to implement the pilot program at Texas A&M.