UGA Project Creates Aid for Veterans’ Mental Health

University of Georgia researcher Brian Bauer was recently awarded $250,000 by Mission Daybreak of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for his work to improve veteran mental health.

Mission Daybreak is a 10-year strategy to end veteran suicide. The program provides funding to research, mentorship, data, educational webinars and partnership opportunities. 

Bauer’s submission, called the Continued Service Network (CSN), is led by himself and his former mentor, Alex Leow. The project has two parts. One part is a website which collects information on how users interact with it as well as on their health records, treatments, personality, values and demographics to create personalized treatment recommendations. Users are able to filter through groups to ensure the sources present are ones they trust.

The second part is a mobile app that collects data on the users in order to detect a mood change in real time. Gathering information on the categories of words being typed allows algorithms to detect whether a veteran may need an intervention. The program goes even further and determines which intervention would work best as well as subsequent approaches from similar users if the intervention does not work.

Bauer said, “This algorithm gets better and better the more people use it – it optimizes over time.” The algorithm’s development is one of many things that make the project unique. From recommending problem solving-skills to connecting the user with another person if they need immediate help, the project has created a way to offer specialized and personal help to each user.

The CSN team will continue from phase 1, where they received the funding, into an eight-week accelerator. They will have access to continue developing CSN through exclusive data and networking opportunities. They will then present their project at a live pitch event in hopes of earning anywhere from $500,000 to $3 million in additional funding.

Learn more about the CSN project here.