Apps For Diagnosing Mental Illnesses On Social Media Considered Medical Quackery

On the front of its Business Day section, the New York Times (12/26, B1, Singer, Subscription Publication) reported that recently the UK suicide-prevention group the Samaritans “introduced a free web app,” called Samaritans Radar, “that would alert users whenever someone they followed on Twitter posted worrisome phrases like ‘tired of being alone’ or ‘hate myself.’”

To some psychiatrists, however, “the notion of consumer apps like Samaritans Radar that would let untrained people parse the posts of individual friends and strangers for possible mental health disorders amounts to medical quackery.”

Meanwhile, some researchers are still mining social media platforms for insight into various health trends and issues. “The National Institutes of Health, for instance, recently committed more than $11 million to support studies into using sites like Twitter and Facebook to better understand, prevent and treat substance abuse.”

Related Links:

— “Risks in Using Social Media to Spot Signs of Mental Distress,” Natasha Singer, New York Times, December 26, 2014.

Posted in In The News.