UCI News

Assistant professor gets grant to crowdsource an online mental health intervention platform

May 16, 2019
Assistant professor gets grant to crowdsource an online mental health intervention platform
Stephen Schueller, assistant professor of psychological science, will use his three-year NIH grant to crowdsource a mental health intervention platform to help people self-manage issues such as depression and anxiety. Patricia DeVoe / School of Social Ecology

Stephen Schueller, assistant professor of psychological science, has been awarded a three-year, $680,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to develop and evaluate a crowdsourced anxiety and depression intervention platform. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining input from large numbers of people via the internet. The project will increase understanding of various problems – such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders – by collecting information from the 3,000 daily visitors to the nonprofit Mental Health America’s online screening tests. “People are using technology to learn things about themselves, and through this project, we will learn more about how technology can be used to develop evidence-based intervention strategies to help treat mental health issues,” Schueller said. According to MHA, 50 percent of those accessing its questionnaires would prefer using a digital tool to self-manage their symptoms, rather than visiting a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist in person. Schueller, who is partnering with MHA to develop the intervention platform, noted that awareness of assistance options can be expanded through technology. “What’s exciting is the potential for scalability without sacrificing efficacy,” he said. “One in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in their life, and through a crowd-powered platform, we can harness the wisdom of millions to help treat millions.”