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Can A Video Game Help Spot Depression?

A UK gaming startup has received funding to help develop ways to make mental health assessments easier.

Thymia, founded in 2020 by neuroscientist Dr Emilia Molimpakis and theoretical physicist Dr Stefano Goria, aims to remove subjectivity from mental health assessments, which is something that can adversely impact the diagnosis of mental health conditions, reports Silicon Canals.

By integrating video games with cutting-edge neuropsychology, linguistics, and machine learning, the British startup is creating a solution that can help detect the signs of depression and monitor the recovery and evolution of those undergoing psychological or psychiatric care.

Thymia uses machine learning, which is one of the most popular approaches to Artificial Intelligence (AI), as it uses computers to learn from predicting and analysing the results based on data acquired from hundreds of subjects.

Dr Molimpakis referred to the importance of improving the diagnosis and monitoring of depression by stating: “Depression is a massive, constantly growing societal and economic problem

“It is a leading cause of disability and suicides and costs the UK economy billions annually in lost productivity. COVID-19 has further compounded the issue, unleashing a mental illness ‘tsunami’ due to a lack of in-person appointments, but also its harsh societal effects – social isolation, employment loss, bereavement, and grief.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over 264 million people from all walks of life and all ages suffer from depression, and for this reason, the organisation has made depression ‘one of the priority conditions covered by WHO’s mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)’.

Thymia has already partnered with important research institutes such as University College London (UCL) and King’s College London. These partnerships will help escalate the technology developed by Thymia to be applied to other cognitive disorders.

With mental health awareness programs increasing, the Thymia is expected to gather increasing attention in the future, especially at a time when objective testing is becoming increasingly important in the mental health sector.

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