Andrew ng and alison darcy are working on Exploring opportunities for machine learning and deep learning in mental health, with a focus on using natural language processing to support cognitive restructuring for adolescents.

BACKGROUND Information

  • One in four adults have a diagnosable mental illness, and around 80% of all mental illness occurs before age 21.

  • According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease; The CDC estimates that productivity loss due to depression alone costs employers $44 billion annually.

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.


Students on this project will develop Woebot, an app that works to make thought restructuring therapeutic techniques engaging and portable for adolescents

Behavioral therapy techniques for adolescents are largely based on adaptations of adult models. As such, most of these strategies dont take into account the unique complexities of adolescent life. Teens and preteens are more socially oriented, less pragmatic, and more impulsive than most adults. It is important that mindset-reframing therapies for adolescents take these considerations into account.

Additionally, access to proper care is the leading problem facing the field of mental health care today. This problem is particularly pertinent for adolescents. Young people tend not to reach out to adults. Rather, in about 80% of completed suicide cases the individual tells a peer about intentions, but only about 25% of peers will notify an adult.

The Woebot app seeks to make mindset-reframing therapy, formally known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), more readily accessible to adolescents. It will serve both as a supplement to seeing a clinician and as a better alternative than paper-based forms. The Woebot app will work to help teens and preteens to engage in healthy coping during times of emotional distress, feel better faster, and reveal underlying patterns in their thinking to improve long-term happiness.

Technical Skills

We are looking for 1 – 2 students with a willingness to learn how to help productively change mindsets, can commit to at least 2 quarters of involvement, and who have a background in one of the following:

  • Object-Oriented Software Design

  • Java, Swift, and/or Objective C

  • User Interface Design

  • Knowledge of Data Structures