Why Reddit is the unlikely to key to solving the mental health riddle

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For mit and harvard have long sought to find connection between language and mental health. So where better. Look than read it. Chang daily charge with these is an carson took a look at this topic so what exactly where researchers from mit and harvard looking at when going to read it. So you know there these researchers who have been interested in this idea that there is a link between language and mental health issues. And maybe we can do is detect issues by examining the language that people use so essentially what they did is applied machine learning algorithms to about eight hundred thousand Posts disease they detect any patterns about mental health during the beginning of the pandemic. It's a funny place. It's a funny concept to get your mind wrapped around because it's it's read it and you know it's sort of known as place for while. Am as it's known for a lot of random conversations so why why was Deemed an ideal place to look for these kinds of connections. There's a few reasons here for one. It's real time data about you know what's going on that's of concern in people's lives. The researchers were able to use it to go back into time Spar back is january in this case to get an idea of how things were progressing as the pandemic started and they were also able to look at specific sub reddit that are devoted specifically to like certain mental health issues. Whether it's depression or schizophrenia. And then also look at. It's that are more like general advice for topics like parenting your finances Is if there are any any other kind of broader trends. There were popping up along the way they made this point with me that for a lot of people read it is a place that they turn to for advice and support in community and whatnot and also it's something that for them could be relatively anonymous as they were gathering this data and it's no secret that anxiety levels in general has risen this year. Thanks to the coronavirus. Thanks to well everything. This dumpster fire for years. So what would exactly they find. That was surprising right so from one. They found over time that the language that was being used across different sub reddit including the general advice ones started to become more similar to particular sub reddit devoted to health anxiety and the folks that generally have been on the health anxiety. Separated are the ones who you know for. Example will really concerned about coronavirus is far back as january before. A lot of us were really. That concerned The also found that a lot of people were talking about. You know stress relating to substance use in alcoholics consumption and that was another trend that was kind of popping up not just in separate devoted specifically to topics like addiction or alcoholism in terms of these different sub. Reddit it's like. How did these researchers determine which wants to go to and which one's religion yet so part of part of that is kind of interesting because that this sort of ties into this decision that they had to make between using read it and doing something like using clinical survey data which in some ways the clinical survey data would be more valid. Because the folks taking those surveys would be people who were clinically diagnosed in chris with the read it. You don't know for sure that the people who are on that read it have a clinical diagnosis or should've with the with the specifics. Their their cases are but they went for very large sample size. And so they're thinking. Was that kind of balance things out. somewhat but yeah. That's an interesting concept idea that volume and just the the sheer numbers will override the concern that some folks are saying may not be legit or a relaxed sufficiently. How unusual is that approach that you know going for these law of numbers as as opposed to going for us more traditional Clinical research work. I think it depends a little bit sort of of Like a case by case basis for this group. This is a very early steppingstone. They're hoping that people are gonna use this research in pick up the baton and move forward and and for the purposes of what they wanted to do. They decided that read. It was gonna be the better fit. You know partly kinda like i mentioned there was the real time aspect if they hit us clinical survey data it would have been a lot more limited in scope because there would been questions the people would have had to answer That would not have just been like kind of a broad ranging overview of what people are living in their lives in the timeframe would have been shorter is as well. And so you know for this. They're they're pretty open about what they're possible. Research limitations were. But i think in general for them. They're hoping that this is something that's going to kind of peak interest for other researchers and Another folks we able to take this forward. Hey you there was a lot of data of asleep taken from Both that what what do you do with it. How do you take this information and use it to benefit mental health research so they relied on machine learning algorithms in. This is something. That kind of pops. Every step of the process you know. For example early on with redoing his finding posts that had language it was specifically related to the pandemic. So you know. Words like respirator. Virus lockdown all. That sort of thing they were also able to kind of view the data in different ways using algorithms so in one case They were kind of looking at all. The language used and placing it in these topic. Clusters and of removing the individual sub. Reddit is kind of a factor in how they clustered the topics so they were able to look like across the board at at things like Topics like loneliness or suicide doubled. Kind of in the time frame that they were looking at they also saw the emergence of a cluster on panic attacks allen so so partly this kind of helps than being able to look at the data in a lot of different ways in terms of that data that it's a lot that they've got just curious how or how they're tapping into the fellow this information. What are they doing with it too. I guess whether it be more proactive in terms of treatment or directed the direction of where mental health research goes. What what are they doing with. The data part of their broader hope is that this is gonna be information that will be useful to clinicians You know when you think about situation like global pandemic. This is something that is stressful for all of us. But they have this theory that for certain groups of people. they're even more vulnerable. You know stressors are exacerbating Some issues that people are already have in the best of times right in. So how do you identify those people who need the most help. Who are the most vulnerable in. Make sure that they're getting the resources that they need and partly. It's it's an awareness thing for for clinicians yet as a counter standard. Serve the idea that were this helps us recognize how severe a problem certain mental health issues are right that that this is a surreal lens into that that a traditional clinical trial wouldn't be able to give us right. Yeah i mean that that's basically the idea that maybe you could look at specific groups of people whether it's folks who are suffering from schizophrenia. Depression or you know etc etc and like. Hey the folks in this particular group seem to be having these specific issues. You know like heightened during the pandemic for example so these are people that we need to pay attention to these people that we need to to get help. So yeah that's the basic idea is sense. It's fascinating erin. Thanks for your time

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