According to the World Health Organisation WHO “rates of already-common conditions such as depression and anxiety went up by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic, adding to the nearly one billion people who were already living with a mental disorder.”
In Europe the rate of depressive behaviour amongst young people (18-29) doubled in some countries between 2019 and 2021 and around half of young people in the EU reported unmet needs for mental healthcare services in Spring 2021, double that of adults.
In the UK around 1 in 6 (16%) adults experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms and around one in three (34%) adults experience high levels of anxiety; this is slightly higher among younger adults aged 16 to 29 years (42%) and women (37%). An estimated 8 million people in England with mental health problems cannot get specialist help because they are not considered sick enough to qualify.
It does not have to be this way.
Recent advances in social signal processing and affective computing have made it possible to automatically measure many aspects of human behaviour in terms of behaviour primitives (e.g. facial expressions, head movement, speech pattern) and use these methods to measure mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, in a more objective manner, in real time and with little human intervention.
We have used B-Healthy to develop two Apps, Avocado and True Blue [Link] which objectively and automatically analyse face and voice data and interpret expressed behaviour to help clinicians, patients and their friends and families assess, treat and monitor health, mood and mental state.
We are now working with Nottinghamshire NHS Trusts to undertake trials to evidence the clinical safety of the technology in an app designed to assist in health assessments of pregnant women.