AI used to boost youth mental health

Finbar O’Mallon
(Australian Associated Press)


Data scientists and mathematicians are teaming up with psychologists to improve young Australians’ mental health outcomes.

The number crunchers will be part of a University of Sydney research project using machine learning to help people get the right treatment at the right time.

It’s one of five projects using artificial intelligence to receive a multi-million-dollar cash injection from the federal government on Monday.

Lead researcher Frank Iorfino said the system would use collected data on mental health to help spot at-risk people.

This way it could use computer models to find out the best time to get young people help and the type of care best suited to them.

Dr Iorfino, who works in youth mental health, said most disorders emerged at a young age.

“It really is a critical time for health services to intervene otherwise negative outcomes can often cascade,” he told AAP.

“I’m just interested in trying to help mental health services and improve the mental health of young people so they can go on to adulthood.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday’s $19 million announcement would improve prevent, diagnose and treat a range of health conditions.

Other projects receiving funding over a three year period include ones targeting eye disease and breast cancer.

“AI is critical to the future of health care,” Mr Hunt said.


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