App aims to detect depression at onset

App aims to detect depression at onset

The Department of Mental Health and partners have created a personal mental health assessment app aimed at improving the early detection of depression.

The DMIND (Detection and Monitoring Intelligence Network for Depression) application was launched yesterday by the department and partners from the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering from Chulalongkorn University and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

The application can be downloaded to a smartphone as part of the Mor Prom application, said Dr Chanchai Sittipunt, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University.

"Access to psychiatric services in Thailand is still limited because there are not enough medical personnel," said Dr Chanchai. "To deal with the disease, a process of screening and early detection is very important," he said, adding the app can be used as an initial tool to detect depression.

Dr Chanchai said that depression can be caused by stress brought on by external factors such as the economic situation and the pandemic. Depression, he said, can also be brought about by biological and hereditary factors.

More than 1.5 million people suffer from depression in Thailand with about 4,000 people dying each year due to suicide. There are another 53,000 attempted cases of suicide.

The new app should allow for a shortening of time needed for initial screening, Dr Chanchai said.

Results from the app's AI-run programme have shown it to be accurate, he added.

The app's user assessment is divided into three levels of symptoms represented by colours. Green means normal, yellow means a moderate level of symptoms while red means severe symptoms. Relevant medical advice is suggested for each colour level, including the department's phone line service as a follow-up if it is a severe case.

Dr Amporn Benjapolphithak, director-general of the Department of Mental Health, said the app will also limit medical staff being overworked.

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