Scientists have created an app that tracks your mental health

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Soon your smartphone will know your state of mind as, scientists have developed an app that automatically reveals students’ mental health, academic performance and behavioral trends. The StudentLife app, developed by researchers at Dartmouth, which compares students’ happiness, stress, depression and loneliness to their academic performance, also may be used in the general population – for example, to monitor mental health, trigger intervention and improve productivity in workplace employees.

Many smartphone apps use a device’s sensors to try to measure people’s physical well-being, for example by counting every step they take. A new app developed by researchers at Dartmouth College suggests that a phone’s sensors can also be used to peek inside a person’s mind and gauge mental health. When 48 students let the app collect information from their phones for an entire 10-week term, patterns in the data matched up with changes in stress, depression, and loneliness that showed up when they took the kind of surveys doctors use to assess their patients’ mood and mental health. Trends in the phone data also correlated with students’ grades. The results suggest that smartphone apps could offer people and doctors new ways to manage mental well-being, says Andrew Campbell, the Dartmouth professor who led the research.

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