Social media tools can help identify Individuals who are suffering from depression

Thai youth are facing many transformations of the family. More and more children are growing up in single-parent families. At the same time, the number of nuclear families with separated or divorced parents has increased. The Thai family structure has shifted from an extended family to a nuclear family.

Parents and children may not have enough quality time together due to pressure to work outside the home to increase household income. In addition, youth like to spend more time with friends at school and, at home, they may continue communicating with friends via phone or Internet.

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, the cultural transformation through globalisation has disseminated materialism and consumerism through pervasive and persuasive advertising and mass media.

Thai youth may interact with globalisation in more negative than positive ways. Technologies, such as computers, the Internet, and mobile phones have become enmeshed in the lives of Thai youth, and Thai youth were found to be using phone, computer and Internet communication more than previous generations.

The survey found that one-fourth of adolescents used the Internet every day. In addition, the survey found that Thai youth spend at least 2 hours and 20 minutes online and approximately 6–7 hours on phone, Internet, or television media. It is clear that Thai youth devote a majority of their time to new-age communication.

In the meantime, Thai youth have dramatically changed in behaviour and self-care. There are many problems related to Thai youth delinquency such as fighting, smoking, drinking, gambling, game addiction, Internet addition, pursuing a luxurious lifestyle, school drop-out, rape, induced abortion, and suicide.

The nationally representative Global School-based Student Health Survey in Thailand in 2017 reported that 16.5% of students reported symptoms of depression, and 8.6% reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year.  Among adolescents in Bangkok, Thailand, 19% reported having depression, 12% had suicidal tendencies, and 8% had attempted.

However, social media allows for youth to express themselves. The concept of anonymity protects individuals online from judgement and they can express their most intimate thoughts online if they are able to remain anonymous.

Several insights as to how youth can use social media to communicate signs and symptoms of suicide ideation and how screening tools have been developed in the last five years. It was evident that social media sites could record information like a personal journal, demonstrating mood patterns and activities over a period of time.

Such online journals can be useful for detecting escalation of mental health problems, such as depression. When experiencing suicidal ideation, thoughts of suicide, death or emotional pain become more frequent; the person has less good days and becomes preoccupied with their symptoms.

Due to the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues less than half of depression individuals in Thailand access mental health services. This results in increased number of depression by about 18%. The sooner depression is detected, the less complicated and shorter course of therapy it would be.

There have been many studies conducted applying Natural language Processing (NLP) techniques in psychological domains to develop a depression detection algorithm for the Thai language.

Several Thai companies are in the midst of developing technology that could detect depression and prevent suicide.

Although this technology is still being developed it is said to be able to identify individuals who have depressive tendencies and even rank them according to the severity and their risk of suicide.

Help in the form of counselling advertisements and professional advice in the form of advertisements could be featured on their page to encourage them to seek help.

Although still in its infancy stages, this technology could be extremely helpful to the mental health challenges that the Thai youth are facing.

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