Dr Emma Lawrance is the Mental Health Innovations Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation. Her current work focuses on two key areas: research using large mental health datasets, with a focus on youth and digital approaches to mental health, and the impact of climate change on mental health as lead of the Climate Cares programme. She holds a DPhil in computational and clinical neuroscience, and an MSc in neuroscience (Oxford University), while her early degrees were in physics, chemistry, and science communication (Flinders University, Adelaide University and Australian National University). She is also the founder of the youth mental health charity It Gets Brighter.
Mental health needs are rising in the UK and globally, particularly for young people. Instances of mental distress have been exacerbated by the pandemic and traditional services cannot meet needs. Charity services, such as the Shout crisis textline, provide invaluable support to many in mental distress, the majority of whom report having no one else to speak to about their issues. Such services are typically not well evaluated for impact, and the rich datasets are underexplored, though they offer unique opportunities to better understand evolving mental health needs. Imperial is collaborating with Shout to analyse the dataset of over 500K conversations, allowing us to better understand the experiences of those in crisis in their own words, and the impact of current services. In this talk we will share further details about this unique research collaboration, and share early results using NLP methods, such as BERT, Transformers and a 2 for 1 deal (Transformers over BERT). Most of our models show that bigger is better, but not for all kind of applications. All these results are validated over a variety of problems on the same dataset: determine the user profile (i.e. age, sex) by looking at the conversation alone, suicide risks, etc