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Dartmouth App Tracks Stress, Mental Health In Students

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A new app, developed by computer scientists at Dartmouth, hopes to track mental health.

Computer scientists at Dartmouth College have developed an app for a student’s smartphone designed to monitor mental health.

The so-called StudentLife app can track how much a student sleeps and whether he or she is having conversations and getting exercise. It also asks students about their state of mind and what they’ve been eating. The researcher, professor Andrew Campbell, says such data could be used to see depression or dangerous stress coming before it hits too hard.

“[The idea is] to look at their sleep trends, their sociability trends, their activity trends. We know that if there are big changes in any of these items, that could be a big indicator that something’s going on," said Campbell.

In the first phase of the clinical trial, student volunteers were not given feedback from their own phones, but they said they would like to have it. Campbell says privacy issues need to be carefully considered, but hopes the app will eventually be used by both students and college officials to keep mental health issues from interfering with learning.