Predicting mental health, well-being and needs for support among vulnerable populations - ON-128

Preferred Disciplines: Computational Sciences or Quantitative Social Sciences, PhD Candidate Preferred 
Project length: 4-6 (1unit)
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Downtown Toronto (Office Address: 215 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2C7)
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: Preference for individuals who are in the local area or are willing to relocate temporarily to Toronto. We are happy to provide office space for the intern. Language: English
Company: Hire Up Technology Inc.


About Company:

HireUp is a diversity recruitment technology startup that enables companies to find, hire and retain untapped talent; that talent just happens to be individuals with histories of homelessness, incarceration, mental health challenges, addiction challenges, etc. HireUp partners with service agencies to source candidates and ensure they are provided with wrap-around supports to overcome their barriers. Companies pay for access to a unique pool of talent while achieving local community impact, and service agencies see increased volume of high quality jobs being made available to their clients. 

Project Description:

The human services sector is faced with large, often unmanageable caseloads with administrative burdens that detract significantly from spending time with individuals in need of support. Further, tools being used for assessment and triage are often not scientifically validated and limit the ability of case workers to provide the care that a client needs when they need it. The vast majority of service agencies struggle to provide ongoing monitoring and support for individuals in need. Finally, agencies are unable to process and effectively use the data that are available to them to make informed decisions on the care clients need.

The overall goal of this project is to begin laying the groundwork for developing an AI powered tool that will augment delivery of social services by accurately and automatically identifying individuals’ needs for support through client smartphones' personal sensors. The individual collaborating with us on this project will explore ways to collect and process smartphone sensor data (e.g., GPS, Accelerometer, Light, BT, etc) and leverage this data to extract behavioral inferences about users and use this information to predict well-being, mental health, vulnerability and needs for support.

Background and required skills

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

  • Design and develop a standalone smartphone-sensing system (including front end, back end and data processing components)
  • Develop processes through which inferences about behaviour are extracted from raw-sensor data and used in predicting mental health and well-being.
  • Evaluate data for novel insights about the causes and consequences of vulnerability
  • Develop processes to put these insights into practice in human services sector  


  • Longitudinal Research
  • AI/Machine Learning
  • Mobile Sensing
  • Ambulatory Assessment Methodology 

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Expertise and experience in AI/Machine Learning
  • Expertise in processing and drawing insights from mobile and/or wearable sensor data
  • Experience in iOS and/or Android App development
  • Awareness of best practices regarding data privacy and security
  • Interest and/or substantive knowledge in mental health, psychological well-being and social determinants of health


For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!