Even though it's easy to get caught up in emotions during times of stress, awareness could be key in defeating this silent assassin. Armed with the right tools, improved monitoring of health-issues allows us for greater mobility in tackling these problems head-on and perhaps even prevent them in the future.
There's An App For That
Doomed to fail classes last year due to missed lectures and incomplete assignments, two students at Dartmouth College were spared their academic careers in the name in science. The pair, along with 46 other students were asked to be a part of an experiment which involved automated analysis of stress and health related issues through smartphone data.
Thanks to Andrew Campbell, a computer scientist working at the college, the app under-development monitored every aspect possible including how much sleep each student received, physical activity levels, their location and even the frequency and duration of social contact.
The data provided clues to the professor which signaled the health issues hidden from plain-view and the students received a chance to complete their coursework over the summer instead of being suspended.
"We found for the first time that passive and automatic sensor data, obtained from phones without any action by the user, significantly correlates student depression level, stress and loneliness with academic performance over the term," Campbell says. From social cues to sleeping habits, many of these factors play a direct role in our overall well-being according to researchers, often times without us knowing.
Apart from the obvious privacy issues which may arise from constant monitoring, the software could be a "life-saving" tool in helping many people who feel overwhelmed, identify and take steps to remedy any issues hidden from view. By giving full control to the user, the privacy concerns could be mitigated and allow them to react faster to potential health-issues as well.
Perhaps in the future, a smartphone app may even replace the usual pills prescribed by doctors, a positive outcome regardless of how you spin it. With more humans taking steps to preventing stress and with identification playing a key role, the development of this technology will only continue to improve.
It doesn't matter you're a student pulling an all-nighters or a hardcore analysts on Wall Street, the cloud of stress can affect everyone. Although some may be "naturally adept" at combating negative thoughts, this app and other monitoring technologies like it will completely revolutionize human states and allow us to determine when mental breaks are truly needed.