LSU professor works on app to help treat serious mental illness
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - One LSU professor is on a mission to help people overcome serious mental illnesses in Louisiana through technology.
Technology has come a long way, especially in the last few years. It’s continuing to advance as experts try to figure out ways to use it to help with mental illnesses.
“I think we’ve finally accomplished that,” said Dr. Alex Cohen, an LSU professor in the Department of Psychology. “At least to a point where we can try to apply it.”
Cohen is talking about the “QITraq” app. He and a team of people across the country are working to treat serious mental illness with artificial intelligence.
“A lot of what we’re doing is trying to mimic what a clinician does when they’re meeting with somebody,” he said.
Cohen said there is a huge unmet need in this area. That’s why he’s teaming up with the Capital Area Human Services District so the technology can help address the need in seven Louisiana parishes.
“We’re able to connect different elements of LSU, departments of psychology, and people that do artificial intelligence and advanced computing,” he said.
This smartphone app can track a person’s facial expression and language to alert them, their families, and treatment teams of worsening mental states. The goal is to try and avoid costly emergencies and suicide.
You can find it on the app store, but right now it’s being used for two purposes: research and clinical trials.
“Really excited now that we’re able to connect with people in the community and in Baton Rouge,” said Cohen. “We’re able to work very closely to see this try and be implemented naturally into people’s lives.”
He hopes better medications and treatments come out of this. Cohen also hopes it will address the burden of mental illness that he says is unevenly balanced between Black and white and the rich and poor.
Cohen said the app isn’t meant to replace clinicians but to provide them with more data.
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