According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress and mood disorders are a significant problem among teens today. 8% of those 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, and 11% meet the criteria for a major depression. One out of six high school students have seriously contemplated suicide, and half of them have attempted suicide. As a result, it is becoming increasing important to help distinguish between young people with normal emotional ups and downs, and those who are stuck in a potentially serious situation.
Researchers at Rutgers University have created a smartphone app designed to monitor a teenager’s moods. It includes an electronic diary where teens are prompted to record their daily state of mind. The app also tracks social interaction, physical activity, and how often the subject communicates by text or phone. The system can help determine whether the individual is participating in interaction with others, or is at risk of becoming socially isolated.
The researchers hope to add additional functions that will analyze the data and provide coaching to the individual, suggesting activities to manage stress and change behavioral patterns. In the future, this technology could be contained in a wearable device that could also combined monitoring of biomarkers that would signal stress or anxiety.