Mental health and depression have always been taboo subjects across the world, primarily because of their unmeasurable nature. However, we have seen many tech companies and researchers take the necessary steps to tackle and track the mental health of affected patients. And now, scientists have developed certain video games that can help doctors treat patients with depression.
Scientists Develop Video Games to Treat Depression
A UK-based mental health-focused platform named Thymia has developed a special platform that uses special video games to diagnose, monitor, and treat depression patients. The games are based on Neuropsychology. They are then combined with analyses of facial microexpressions and speech patterns of the patients to assess their mental health.
Thymia says that the current system used for assessing mental health issues like depression and anxiety is vague and is primarily based on subjective questionnaires that are prone to be biased. Furthermore, the company also mentions that clinicians often complain about spending more time doing more administrative tasks instead of their patients.
“Right now the existing system is flawed in many ways, GPs don’t have time, the existing systems they have are subjective questionnaires that are incredibly biased and there’s no follow-up between appointments,” said Thymia CEO and co-founder Dr. Emilia Molimpakis in an official statement. “Thymia is the first system that offers objectivity and uses several types of data in order to create a really accurate and robust model of depression,” she further added.
Citing these issues, Thymia developed the video games-based mental health-tracking system to help patients and clinicians. The company says that patients can log onto their platform and get into some enjoyable activities and video games. This way, the system would be able to assess the likelihood and potential severity of depression and create a personalized report of the users.
The company then uses Neuropsychological games to gather a user’s cognitive behaviors like error rates, reaction times, and memory. Along with the games, Thymia uses anonymized facial features to look for depression signs. It also gathers audio data of patients to detect signs of depression using speech.
If a patient needs clinical help, they can visit their clinician. The clinician would then be able to take advantage of the data collected through Thymia’s system and diagnose the patient as needed. The patients can also access the games and activities on Thymia’s platform to monitor their behavioral changes over the course of their treatment. This allows the patient and the clinician to assess the changes and understand whether the treatment is working or not.
The company has currently gathered user data from over 2,000 depression patients as well as healthy individuals to train their AI model. However, experts are currently skeptical about whether the system would have the desired effect on patients or not. It will begin clinical trials for the system later this year.