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Deploying machine learning to improve mental health

A machine-learning expert and a psychology researcher/clinician may seem an unlikely duo. But MIT’s Rosalind Picard and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Paola Pedrelli are united by the belief that artificial intelligence may be able to help make mental health care more accessible to patients.

In her 15 years as a clinician and researcher in psychology, Pedrelli says “it's been very, very clear that there are a number of barriers for patients with mental health disorders to accessing and receiving adequate care.” Those barriers may include figuring out when and where to seek help, finding a nearby provider who is taking patients, and obtaining financial resources and transportation to attend appointments.

Pedrelli is an assistant professor in psychology at the Harvard Medical School and the associate director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). For more than five years, she has been collaborating with Picard, an MIT professor of media arts and sciences and a principal investigator at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (Jameel Clinic) on a project to develop machine-learning algorithms to help diagnose and monitor symptom changes among patients with major depressive disorder.


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