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Individual Mental Health Problem Assistance during COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for Ubiquitous Computing as Personalized Medicines



Mental health problems among the global population are severely worsened during the COVID-19 due to various reasons: the loss of kins and friends, quarantines, discriminations, fear, and triggered geopolitical factors. Yet, current methods for screening mental health issues and identifying vulnerable individuals rely on in-person interviews. Such assessments can be expensive, time-consuming, and blocked by social stigmas, not to mention the reluctancy imposed by travel restrictions.

We identify such complications, and we propose potential solutions through ubiquitous and pervasive healthcare. 

Extensive researches have been conducted on a population level. Researchers monitored public social media platforms (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc.) to understand the general trend in mental health-related problems of the whole population. However, such studies are limited to macro observations and failed to identify individuals in need of mental health assistance.

In response to the problems above, we propose a pervasive computing framework such that all the screening and detection processes are remote and immediate. Ubiquitous data can provide signals of mental health fluctuations of an individual at risk, and a well-established electronic system will notify caregivers about the situations on time. Thus, proper intervention can be delivered on time. Previous work has shown that longitudinal individual-level online logs can be utilized to estimate the anxiety levels of individuals 

In the end, the ethical and privacy concerns remain. First, appropriate human subject protection protocols must be in place. All personnel involved are explicitly informed and de-identified if necessary. Besides, it is vital to ensure that participants have the choice and control over their data at all times. We are also concerned with healthcare decisions based on data analysis, such as bias, and understand the limitations of an automated assessment system.

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Krishnendu Dasgupta

Jul 11, 2020


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Mental Health is definitely a need of the time especially in current times. The Ethical and Privacy concerns should be integrated for keeping data privacy. Really appreciate the way to notify the caregivers about the situations on time. 

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