Recommended Reading: Researchers turning to social media to study mental health concerns during the pandemic

Fellow and Canada CIFAR AI Chair at Amii, Alona Fyshe (also an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta) spoke recently with CTV about her work tracking mental health during the pandemic.

The project was approved under the CIFAR AI Catalyst Grants Program, which is intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic and catalyze new research areas and collaborations in machine learning, providing funding for innovative, high-risk, high-reward ideas and projects.

Speaking with CTV London, Fyshe and her colleague Daniel Lizotte (Western University) explain more about the project and how they’re leveraging artificial intelligence to study mental health concerns during the pandemic.

“I think mental health shapes every part of our lives and also it affects different people in different ways,” says Fyshe. “So one person may find things easy to brush things off and another person may find it more difficult.”

“With artificial intelligence, we can do something a little more complex and we can look for groups of words that mean similar things. That allows us to see not just depressed or sad, but moody or down, and understand that those words used in particular context can mean depressed or sad,” says Fyshe.

“What we want to do is surface the information to people who are experts and can provide the supports … necessary for these moods and changes in culture during these trying times.”

The project is one of four COVID-related research initiatives by researchers from Amii, each in a distinct area of pandemic management: enabling drug discovery, creating a virtual data lab, detecting and monitoring illness, and tracking mental health.

In addition to working with Lizotte, Fyshe is collaborating on the project with Rumi Chunara of New York University and Brent Davis of Western University.

Learn more about how Amii is lending our expertise to high-impact initiatives in the global fight against COVID-19 at

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