The last two years have been a huge burden on everyone, and especially on the students who have had to break away from their frameworks and work distance learning. The disconnection from the social environment and the frequent changes in the daily routine have led to an increase in the effects of depression among children and adolescents. This problem is also noticed by a group of students participating in the Start Alpha program – a technological entrepreneurship program in youth education, which is operated by the Technological Innovation Division of the Ministry of Education.
Following the need for help for students who developed depression and anxiety, students considered the possibility of recognizing early signs of mental problems following symptoms in students’ facial images. The app, Depression Detection, captures the student several times during the day, and thus knows how to detect signs of fatigue, sadness and more. The analysis of the images is performed by the students with the help of an advanced cloud service of artificial intelligence, which they have trained to identify various parameters, which can indicate distress.
Once the app detects a concern for a mental problem, it alerts parents and the educational staff, and allows early resources to be directed to help, which can prevent deterioration and shorten the duration of depression. In addition, the system will be able to upload support suggestions and solutions to a identified problem, such as encouraging physical activity, meeting with friends and more.
In building the app, the students were assisted by experts in pedagogy and mental health who assisted them on the professional side. The application was developed by students Yair Dredik, Kai Miron, Ilan Matmon, Omer Burstein and Amir Hartman (in the joint photo), as part of the program, which is intended for 10th-11th graders from all over the country and provides them with a development incubator, similar to professional incubators in the high-tech world.
Students work in small development groups and can plan and build ideas in collaboration with professional mentors. “After two years in which students had to study for extended periods in front of the screens, they decided that the responsibility to change the situation rested with them,” says Yakir Abutbul, director of the Start Alpha program.
“The overarching goal of the program is to create a mixed generation that takes responsibility, learns the problem and tries to find solutions, of course while helping us create the right environment for the solution. It is important to note the work between the Ministry of Education and AWS. The ideas for real solutions that can impact large audiences. ”