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New Writing Software Helps Identify Early Signs Of Mental Illness

Professors of PEACE

A new software system being developed uses a person’s expressive writing to help identify early signs of mental illness.

A user responds to a prompt and enters their creative writing into the online program. The writing is analyzed over a range of topics such as relationships, anger and addiction to find out if there are any themes or underlying emotional or mental concerns.

Wichita State University graduate student Johnna Crawford created the system.

"People really release a lot of truths and anxieties into writing that they don’t always do when they are talking," Crawford says. "That allows you to be able to find out things about the person that maybe even they didn’t know, but are super important for healing or even finding out their natural abilities for their future."

Crawford says she’s working to turn a research-based word analysis program into a platform that can be used in mental health and educational environments.

She says the program, which is currently in the prototype stage, will help identify the abilities and adversities of people with mental illness.

"It gives you a list of your negative words and your positive emotion words," Crawford says. "In the future, it will be able to tell you if a person is an introvert or an extrovert. It will tell you the level of anger at the time of writing or if they are prone to anxiety."

She studied research on word analysis and how a student’s writing can provide insight into mental health state.

Valley Hope, a substance-abuse and recovery center in Wichita, will begin testing the new software system in January. Crawford expects at least six months of testing and refinements.

Credit Professors of PEACE
This is an example of a WordPrint. A WordPrint is like a fingerprint—individualized and composed of a writer’s emotional language.

Crawford created a company called Professors of PEACE (Personal Enlightenment And Creative Expression) through the WSU Ventures program to develop the software system.

Professors of PEACE seeks to provide personal enlightenment and creative expression in order to help users understand and take control of their mental health.

Crawford says once the software system is fully developed, it will become available to more care facilities that assist with a wide spectrum of mental states, and possibly school districts.

Crawford was recently recognized for her development at the 2016 Innovation Awards at WSU.  


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

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