Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Automated Detection of Personal Psychological Distress from Social Network Activities

Posted by Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew UniversityResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Israel

Summary of the technology

Projects with Yaakov Ophir, Christa Asterhan and Roi Reichart from the Technion
Project ID : 10-2017-4467

Description of the technology


Mental health problems, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Social network technologies (SNT)

Current development stage

TRL2Technology Concept Formulated


  • Social network technologies (SNT) and online Social Network Sites (SNS) are immensely popular and have become an integral part of people's everyday functioning and social lives worldwide, and especially among adolescents.
  • The negative effects and danger of SNS usage, such as 'cyber bullying' and 'Facebook depression' are tremendous.
  • As of today, no computerized algorithms were developed for automated screening of mental health problems (e.g., depression, social rejection, victimization of bullying).

Our Innovation

  • A novel computerized detection tool for psychological distress and suicide intentions among SNT users based on NLP techniques.
  • Automated, un-intrusive screening of mental health problems (such as depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation).
  • User activity patterns analysis
  • Individual need detection


  • Detectable differences in social network behavior among adolescents who suffer from social rejection and/or depression and those who do not, were found in small scale pilot studies. These differences are often not based on direct, verbal distress references, but on more subtle differences in activity patterns.
  • Further indicators of psychological distress in SNT behavior are extracted by combining human, clinical expertise in mental health, Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques and vast data sets.
  • A classifier for social network data according to indicators of the authors’ psychological state will be developed and trained to predict the values of variables in the psychological questioner of the participants, given the Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) based representations of their social network data. Using DNNs enhanced the capability of NLP computer algorithms to make deeper interpretations of the meaning of sentences, paragraphs and larger texts.
  • In addition to the text analysis algorithms and the linguistic categories, the use of non-linguistic information derived from the structure of the social network or from non-textual activities of the participants (e.g. uploaded images and emojis) will be considered to improve the algorithms’ predictive strength.


  • Detect SNT users’ distress online in general and SNT young adults’ distress online in particular.
  • Provide psychological and emotional support to social networks users.

Project manager

Aviv Shoher

Project researchers

Baruch (Education) Schwarz
HUJI, Faculty of Humanities
School of Education

Christa Asterhan
HUJI, School of Education

Related keywords

  • Socio-economic development models, economic aspects
  • Social and Economics concerns
  • Other (uncategorised)
  • Medical Health related
  • Diagnostic
  • Humanities / Social Sciences
  • Web Technologies

About Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. Founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies, Yissum has registered over 8,900 patents covering 2,500 inventions; has licensed out 800 technologies and has spun-off 90 companies. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialized by Yissum generate today over $2 Billion in annual sales.

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