AI Smartphone App Helps Mentally Ill, Families, Caregivers

September 20, 2022

Supporting Mental Health Through Technology

Through a partnership with Capital Area Human Services District, or CAHSD, one of Louisiana’s largest behavioral health providers, LSU is contributing AI technology to help catch early warning signs of serious mental illness and improve treatment.

LSU Professor of Psychology Alex Cohen has developed a smartphone app that can track a person’s speech and facial expressions to alert them, their families, and treatment teams of worsening mental states to help prevent costly—and scary—emergencies and suicide. CAHSD serves about 10,000 people in seven parishes: Ascension, East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, and Pointe Coupee. Through a pilot project, LSU is now providing patients in CAHSD’s first-episode psychosis program with phones that come pre-loaded with Cohen’s app, called QITraq.

“For people who just experienced their first psychotic break, things tend to be particularly disorienting and confusing,” Cohen said. “It’s a critical time in treatment that affects people’s trajectory—how functional or disabled they’re going to be over time.”

The app can be a lifeline for patients who might have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings when they meet with healthcare providers. It can also help clinicians be more confident in their treatment plans, as they’ll have additional data to assess high-risk clients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

AI-generated image of person leaning through a smartphone screen

An LSU AI smartphone app for mental health can listen when others can't. The image above was generated by AI based on keywords: mental health, psychosis, help, phone.


“We’re a mobile service provider, so we work in the community and in the clients’ homes, but we cannot be with them all the time. LSU’s cutting-edge technology can help us more accurately determine if medications and treatment approaches are working, so patients don’t end up in the hospital or, worse, in jail.”

Paul Tuminello, director of outreach services at Capital Area Human Services District