The Fire Alarm of Mental Health

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Mental health has often been overlooked as a legitimate health issue in contrast to medical problems such as cancer, heart disease, or even physical therapy. Versatile in nature, the mind — more specifically the brain — is a tough organ to really understand and diagnose because of its complexity and uniqueness. Triggered by hormones and emotional responses, the mind is hard to control in terms of medication or surgical processes because it isn’t a tangible problem. To sum it all up, mental health is the most difficult to overcome. But ironically, it is given the least attention.

Personally, I find mental health to be a very important issue that needs to be given more concern and attention. As of 2019, mental health problems such as depression, suicide, and anxiety have been at its peak since the early 2000s and continues to show an upwards trend in the future as well. It’s about time tech and health companies merge together to bring new ideas that can mitigate this trend once and for all.

Recently, in Silicon Valley, a startup business named Mindstrong launched an algorithm in which “an early-warning system […] would flag the user when an emotional crisis seemed imminent — a personal, digital “fire alarm.” (New York Times).

With this device at hand, patients can get notifications before their emotional breakdown which can lead to safer and better results. In a way, it’s like a fire alarm that rings when sensed with extreme mood swings or behavioral patterns instead of the usual flint and smoke.

It’s impressive to see how a company like Mindstrong dares to challenge the issue of mental health in a manner that has never been considered by traditional health professionals in the past. Dual-connected keyboards that allow 24-hour sensing of everyday messages and searches from the user, can help them become more aware of themselves when placed at risk. Often times, it’s hard for doctors or psychiatrists to really identify the true feelings of mental health patients because patients aren’t able to show their vulnerability as well in such a situation. By letting Mindstrong track a users activity on their online devices, this program will bring better insight into the true concerns of the patient and seek ways to solve them before actual danger occurs.

The biggest concern regarding such a moment-to-moment monitoring system is probably the privacy rights that come at risk due to data collection. Yet again like most technological advances, convenience always comes at a cost: privacy. It’s an inevitable obstacle to overtake and may surely take quite a bit of time before such an arrangement can be made where private information won’t be leaked at all. At least, companies like Mindstrong are at least trying to promote privacy protection.

All in all, from my honest opinion, I think Mindstrong is a very interesting and also important company to follow up on because it deals with the topic of mental health. Mental health is already hard in itself so I hope Mindstrong and other companies in line with it can start a powerful tech revolution that will end the problem as time goes on. Like its’ name, let’s keep our minds strong and share positivity in the world as well!

 

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