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UK University to monitor social media accounts to identify suicidal students

new competition funding to support student mental health
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Northumbria University in the North East of England is set to take the radical step of using data collected from students' social media accounts in a bid to reduce climbing student suicide rates. The higher educational institution, located in Newcastle upon Tyne, will create an Early Alert Tool to offer aid to undergrads in crisis.

Northumbria University is working in partnership with nine other organizations on the project, which was awarded funding by the Office for Students (OfS) today. A total of £14.5 million ($18.4m) has been put aside by OfS, £6 million of which will go to the social media scanning project, with another £8.5 million going to nine other collaborative projects.

The university already analyses student data to flag potential mental health issues, such as patterns in grades, lecture attendance records, library usage, and how often students log on to virtual learning environments. However, the new funding will allow researchers to mine new data sources, such as social media usage.

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Social media is often cited as a cause of teenage depression. / © natmac stock / Shutterstock

A press release issued by OfS said that only one in three people who die by suicide are known to mental health services in the UK. By developing and testing additional data points, OfS aims to help students in difficulty more effectively.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: "Whenever I talk to students, improving mental health support is consistently raised as a priority. Taking preventative action to promote good mental health is critical, as is taking a whole institution approach and involving students in developing solutions."

She added that OfS would be reviewing the progress of each project through a comprehensive evaluation strategy to understand effective practice, and will be sharing the outcomes widely so that students everywhere can benefit from the work being done.

Few details were given about what information exactly would be mined from students' social media accounts. The project will raise concerns about the invasion of privacy, but these issues could be eased somewhat by an opt-in policy that requires students to consent to being apart of the program.

What do you think about the project? Let us know in the comments below.

Via: Engadget Source: OfS

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David McCourt

David McCourt

David enjoys staying abreast of the latest technology and newest Android apps. Outside of the office, he can be found playing snooker and writing bad 00s indie songs.

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  • 1
    Katy wiwi Dec 28, 2020 Link to comment

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      Deactivated Account Dec 29, 2020 Link to comment

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  • OpenNepo 4
    OpenNepo Dec 20, 2020 Link to comment

    In fact, depression is not an uncommon thing these days. It is especially common among teenagers, because they look at this postmodern world and simply do not see any reference points to look up to. For those who are now at the top are often dishonest and self-serving people who do not belong there. In addition, the maximum class inequality due to capitalist society also has its negative effects. That's why I personally tend to think that it's worth check here and studying what the scientific community thinks about it. When young people are depressed, this is a bad signal, and there are preconditions for further decline.

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