Current Project: Mental Health and Technology

A couple of current studies in the SML focus on technology and mental health. One study looks at VR technology and managing anxiety, while the other looks at online peer-to-peer support applications.

This data for this study has been collected and analyzed. Publications to come soon!

Many people go online for information and support on mental health concerns. Led by the recent PhD Kaylee Kruzan, this project explores how a population that is usually difficult to engage in treatment (individuals who self-injure) exchanges information and support on self-injury through an online peer-to-peer support application. In this project we aim to (1) describe behavioral and linguistic patterns of users, (2) explore peer support patterns to assess the interaction between solicitation and response, and (3) we examine the relationship between online behaviors and self-injury over the course of two months. 

In another project, we examine how to help people with anxiety and non-suicidal self-injury better manage their well-being. Virtual reality (VR) technology has a lot of potential to be useful in a variety of different communication and health contexts, from raising awareness about environmental issues, to assisting with perspective-taking, to helping people with PTSD. But there’s still a lot that’s not understood about how we respond to being transported into these virtual environments, especially around how we sense our bodies when we can’t actually see them. This study, done in collaboration with the Virtual Embodiment Lab, is testing a few different methods to help people manage anxiety by transforming their bodies and their environments in VR.