Apple and UCLA have partnered to deep-dive into the study of mental health using the company’s devices such as the iPhone and the Apple Watch.
The global pandemic has changed people’s lives in more ways than one. The world will probably not see any big events happening in the next couple of months. It could even last for a year or so. The lockdowns implemented around the world have also caused a domino effect on the economy. Unfortunately, it ultimately affected the mental health of people.
The pandemic has forced economies to crumble, thereby resulting in unemployment and further poverty. These two causes have snowballed into another global pandemic on mental health depression.
Apple and UCLA team up
UCLA announced over its newsroom that it would start a three-year study on mental health. Studies on the matter have been plenty. However, what makes their approach unique is that it will team up with Apple to conduct the study. Instead of doing a subjective approach, UCLA will utilize Apple devices to collect data.
The ultimate goal of this study is to detect the onset of mental health problems, especially depression. Dr. Nelson Freimer, distinguished professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, said,
“This collaboration, which harnesses UCLA’s deep research expertise and Apple’s innovative technology, has the potential to transform behavioral health research and clinical care.”
He adds that the study will be able to help almost 300 million people around the world who suffer from depression. Freimer also is positive that it can lower down suicide rates among these patients.
Importance of the study amid COVID-19
COVID-19 has taken the problem of mental health to another level. People have been into forced lockdowns that they aren’t used to. As such, anxiety and depression among patients have spiked. Therefore, conducting this study is more important than ever.
UCLA admits that data collection will be difficult during this time. Fortunately, technology comes to save the day, which makes remote studies possible. The university commits that the data handled by their group will be kept secure. There will be 150 initial participants in the study. It will balloon to 3,000 between 2021 and 2023.
Each participant will have to download the research app on their own iPhones. They will also get an Apple Watch and Beddit sleep monitor. These devices will be used throughout the study duration and will monitor the participants’ physical activities and sleep patterns.
Image from Aaron Burden/ Unsplash