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Michigan State U to Develop ‘Smart’ Counseling Tech

College counseling centers may soon be able to use smartphone and wristband analytics to help students seeking treatment for mental health issues like depression. Michigan State University recently received $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop mobile technology that analyzes student behaviors to help clinicians make informed decisions and provide treatment. 

MSU’s College of Engineering, College of Communications Arts and Sciences and Counseling Center are working on the iSee technology to enhance and supplement in-person counseling services.

iSee works by:

  • Leveraging sensors inside of smartphones and wristbands to monitor many student behaviors, including “physical activity, diet, sleeping habits, travel and social behavior,” according to MSU Today;
  • Utilizing a behavior analytics engine that mines “machine learning and causality analysis results for identifying the patient’s Depression severity,” according to the project abstract; and
  • Generating a clinician dashboard that visualizes both the behavior information and in-patient analysis, which can help counselors provide better treatment.

The project will initially focus on depression in college students, but it can be extended to include other mental health issues, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, dementia and schizophrenia, according the project abstract.

“Our technology will allow college counseling centers to be more accurately informed with the severity of each student,” Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and project lead, told MSU Today. “As such, unnecessary visits can be reduced and clinician time can be better utilized.”

To learn more about the iSee project, visit the MSU Today site.


About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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