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Detecting Clinically Relevant Emotional Distress and Functional Impairment in Children and Adolescents:

6/26/23, 12:00 AM

Background:
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and adolescents were experiencing a mental health crisis, partly due to a lack of quality mental health services. The rate of suicide for Black youth has increased by 80%. By 2025, the health care system will be short of 225,000 therapists, further exacerbating the current crisis. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for providers, schools, youth mental health, and pediatric medical providers to integrate innovation in digital mental health to identify problems proactively and rapidly for effective collaboration with other health care providers. Such approaches can help identify robust, reproducible, and generalizable predictors and digital biomarkers of treatment response in psychiatry. Among the multitude of digital innovations to identify a biomarker for psychiatric diseases currently, as part of the macrolevel digital health transformation, speech stands out as an attractive candidate with features such as affordability, noninvasive, and nonintrusive.

Objective:
The protocol aims to develop speech-emotion recognition algorithms leveraging artificial intelligence/machine learning, which can establish a link between trauma, stress, and voice types, including disrupting speech-based characteristics, and detect clinically relevant emotional distress and functional impairments in children and adolescents.

Methods:
Informed by theoretical foundations (the Theory of Psychological Trauma Biomarkers and Archetypal Voice Categories), we developed our methodology to focus on 5 emotions: anger, happiness, fear, neutral, and sadness. Participants will be recruited from 2 local mental health centers that serve urban youths. Speech samples, along with responses to the Symptom and Functioning Severity Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire 9, and Adverse Childhood Experiences scales, will be collected using an Android mobile app. Our model development pipeline is informed by Gaussian mixture model (GMM), recurrent neural network, and long short-term memory.

Results:
We tested our model with a public data set. The GMM with 128 clusters showed an evenly distributed accuracy across all 5 emotions. Using utterance-level features, GMM achieved an accuracy of 79.15% overall, while frame selection increased accuracy to 85.35%. This demonstrates that GMM is a robust model for emotion classification of all 5 emotions and that emotion frame selection enhances accuracy, which is significant for scientific evaluation. Recruitment and data collection for the study were initiated in August 2021 and are currently underway. The study results are likely to be available and published in 2024.

6/26/23, 12:00 AM

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