Queen’s graduate students use AI to Get A-Head

AI technology used for mental health and therapy at Queen’s

Ahad Bandealy talked to The Journal about innovation in mental healthcare.

Mental health and therapy at Queen’s can be done with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

Get A-Head is an online platform used at Queen’s to train graduate students as future mental health professionals and deliver mental health services to students.

“[Get A-Head] is unique in that it uses AI-powered Natural Language Processing to recognize patients' linguistic patterns and word usage, and provide key qualitative metrics on rapport, authenticity, and cognitive processing,” Founder Ahad Bandealy said in a statement to The Journal.

After a pilot program at the University of Waterloo in 2021, Get A-Head was made available to postsecondary students across Ontario at no cost to students.

“Get A-Head is also able to match mental health practitioners to patients with little to no wait time,” Bandealy said.

Since the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, Get A-Head has provided over 14,000 sessions to students seeking mental health services.

Bandealy created Get A-Head in response to problems he identified in the mental health system while pursuing his PhD in Behavioural Health at the University of Toronto: rampant demand for mental health practitioners, costly training, and a lack of objective data.

“To me, these issues seemed to negatively affect patient outcomes and worsened the barriers people already faced when trying to access care,” Bandealy added.

Queen’s students can access Get A-Head by visiting the website and registering with their school email.

“Students complete a set of intake questions that our algorithm then uses to match them to the best available practitioner,” Bandealy said.  

“In either case, we’re facilitating barrier-free access to care for the student, as well as valuable experience to the therapist trainee.”

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