ALJI: Active Listening Journal Interaction
Sullivan, Patrick Ryan
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Depression is a crippling burden on a great many people, and it is often well hidden. Mental health professionals are able to treat depression, but the general public is not well versed in recognizing depression symptoms or assessing their own mental health. Active Listening Journal Interaction (ALJI) is a computer program that seeks to identify and refer people suffering with depression to mental health support services. It does this through analyzing personal journal entries using machine learning, and then privately responding to the author with proper guidance. In this thesis, we focus on determining the feasibility and usefulness of the machine learning models that drive ALJI. With heavy data limitations, we cautiously report that with a single journal entry, our model detects when a person's symptoms warrant professional intervention with a 61% accuracy. A great amount of discussion on the proposed solution, methods, results, and future directions of ALJI is included.
General Audience Abstract
An incredibly large number of people suffer from depression, and they can rightfully feel trapped or imprisoned by this illness. A very simple way to understand depression is to first imagine looking at the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen, and then imagine feeling absolutely nothing while looking that same sunset, and you can't explain why. When a person is depressed, they are likely to feel like a burden to those around them. This causes them to avoid social gathering and friends, making them isolated away from people that could support them. This worsens their depression and a terrible cycle begins. One of the best ways out of this cycle is to reveal the depression to a doctor or psychologist, and to ask them for guidance. However, many people don't see or realize this excellent option is open to them, and will continue to suffer with depression for far longer than needed. This thesis describes an idea called the Active Listening Journal Interaction, or ALJI. ALJI acts just like someone's personal journal or diary, but it also has some protections from illnesses like depression. First, ALJI searches a journal entry for indicators about the author's health, then ALJI asks the author a few questions to better understand the author, and finally ALJI gives that author information and guidance on improving their health. We are starting to create a computer program of ALJI by first building and testing the detector for the author's health. Instead of making the detector directly, we show the computer some examples of the health indicators from journals we know very well, and then let the computer focus on finding the pattern that would reveal those health indicators from any journal. This is called machine learning, and in our case, ALJI's machine learning is going to be difficult because we have very few example journals where we know all of the health indicators. However, we believe that fixing this issue would solve the first step of ALJI. The end of this thesis also discusses the next steps going forward with ALJI.
- Masters Theses