EU FP7 Research in Personalised Mental Health Care

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OPTIMI PROJECT – Online Predictive Tools for Intervention in Mental Illness

Mental health care represents over a third of the cost of health care to all EU Nations. It additionally results in as much again in further costs to the economy in lost productivity. It damages families and friendships at the societal level and results in millions suffering in silence. Depression and Stress related disorders are the most common mental illnesses and prevention of depression and suicide is one of the five central focus points in the European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing. However little is being done to develop effective systems for prevention of the onset of the illnesses or to provide easier diagnosis with a view to better determine the effects of treatment. In fact, current mental disease treatments are focused on pharmacology and therapies.

OPTIMI will change this, firstly, by developing tools to perform Prediction, through early identification of the onset of an illness by monitoring poor coping behavior, and secondly, to perform Prevention by developing online preventive treatments. It is based on the hypothesis that the central issue and starting point of longer term mental illness depends on the individual’s capacity and ability to cope with stress.

OPTIMI is focused on those people under depression risk because of continued stress. The goal of the project is to develop wearable, multiparametric monitoring devices and novel algorithms making it possible to detect high stress, poor coping and mild depressive symptoms before they degenerate into serious disease. Predicting when a person is close to suffer from depression allows early personal treatment and avoids further illness complications.


In order to indentify the precedents and onset of a mental illness, OPTIMI will first identify the occurrence of high stress, especially in high-risk individuals, on a daily basis. Then it will determine the ongoing effect of stress on the individual by studying behavior patterns and physiological variables over longer periods in the natural environment of subjects, thus avoiding artificial laboratory situations. To this end wearable and domestic appliances based on EEG, ECG, Cortisol levels, Voice analysis, Physical activity analysis and a self reporting electronic diary will be developed and utilized.

Two trial phases has been undergone with volunteers from China, Switzerland, UK and Spain, monitored by therapists and psychologists. The first phase helped to calibrate the prediction system and the other phase has been focused on the application of preventative treatments based on CCBT (Computerized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

OPTIMI’s Objectives
The detailed objectives of the project may be summarised as follows:

  • To define the parameters that will be measured to predict the onset of depression.
  • To define the mechanisms that underlie the parameters.
  • To develop those mechanisms and supporting sensor systems applying EEG, ECG, Voice, Cortisol, Activity and Diary and the manner of deducing those parameters.
  • To develop a database framework to monitor the parameters for any large sample of high risk individuals and to allow the data mining and agent based search to find appropriate rules using human and automatic instructions.
  • To develop a knowledge based rule engine that may identify automatically patient stress exposure and risk levels.
  • To take two existing CCBT applications and modify and augment them so that the OPTIMI sensors are integrated and used within a closed loop system with trial subjects.
  • To organise three trial sites, in China, UK and Spain, in which high risk individuals will be chosen (mothers of disabled children, unemployed, final year students). To monitor the system as applied to these trial sites over 12 months and to correlate the system data with data taken regularly from subjects in the trial by trained therapists. To tune the knowledge based system.
  • To conduct a further trials in the (UK and Spain) same sites and determine if the enhanced CCBT system provides a preventative approach helping the individuals deal with their stress patterns.

More about OPTIMI
If you want to know more about OPTIMI project, please watch the video below.





The OPTIMI project is funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme Personal Health Systems – Mental Health – Collaborative Project – Small of medium-scale focused research project – Grant agreement n. 248544

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