Dubai: Alarmed by global suicide rates and fearing a mental health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Dubai student has founded a mobile and web application to help people keep their psychological well-being in check.
Afrah Shuja, a grade 12 pupil of Al Khaleej National School, said LiveX, when fully operational, will be able to raise an alert that the user is facing a potential mental health issue and recommend a psychologist accordingly. It will also provide a wider psychological “upkeep” that is “personalised and private”, added Afrah, a US national.
Another aim, the 17-year-old added, is to change the way that mental health is viewed in the world — as a stigma in many cases. “For example, everyone has a body and it’s commonly accepted that you take care of it. But the fact of the matter is that everyone also has a mind, but are we expected to explicitly take care of it the same way?” Afrah said.
Quoting pre-pandemic statistics from the World Health Organisation and other sources, she said suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 29 years; 450 million suffer from mental illnesses worldwide; and the economic output loss associated with mental disorders was estimated to be $1 trillion (around Dh3.67 trillion) worldwide in 2019. The pandemic has only worsened the mental health situation, Afrah added.
At first, LiveX will be geared towards students and professionals before expanding to the general public. Using artificial intelligence-powered algorithms and “research-driven scientific practices”, it will help students and professionals “maintain and improve” their mental health, according to Afrah. This should, in the long run, reduce school dropout rates and absenteeism while increasing student engagement and performance, Afrah added. She said she was not at liberty to “disclose too much” of how exactly LiveX will work but added that it would be unique.
What is the end goal?
Afrah pointed out LiveX is not designed for “extreme cases”, nor is it a medical device, but rather a “mental health upkeep” for the average person who is going through the “ups and downs on life”.
Working with a team of students and graduates, Afrah said: “Our vision and end goal is to make people happier. I intend LiveX to be for the people and by the people. It is evolving by the day according to what we hear and will always continue to do so.”
At the moment, only the landing page of the website is up, with the full site expected to be launched “soon”. The app component of LiveX is also currently under development.