Impact Agency project uses AI to boost safety of batyr's mental health app

Impact Agency project uses AI to boost safety of batyr's mental health app

During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re building on a partnership designed to empower students and staff from RMIT, with the potential to reach – and support – huge audiences beyond the university.

Students from Impact Agency - an innovative work experience program delivered by the RMIT Activator team - have drawn on artificial intelligence to make batyr’s OurHerd app safer for young Australians.

OurHerd was created by preventative youth mental health organisation batyr. It aims to provide a safe and supportive space for young people to share stories about tough times, resilience and hope. 

It’s a first-of-its-kind platform that leverages the power of social media, empowering young people to use their collective voices to create actionable change - matching one of the Impact Agency pillars, emerging tech for good.

RMIT students Cheng Zeng, Sunil Kumar Chandrasekharan, Vaibhav Rameshbhai Thumar and Xiao Han, used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to build out the safety mechanics of the OurHerd platform, ensuring that all content that is uploaded to the feed is safe for the story consumer and creator.

They were closely mentored by Dr Haytham Fayek, an AI and machine learning expert, and working closely with batyr’s Head of Data & Insights Josh Wiseman and OurHerd Product Manager Andrew Woodhead.

RMIT and batyr’s Student Engagement Partner Christian Barkho said it was a successful union.

“It’s lovely to see such a diverse group of students (higher ed, vocational, onshore and offshore) coming together to advocate for the mental health and wellbeing of their peers in such a dedicated way,” he said.

"It's also fantastic to see the support coming their way from RMIT staff and student groups. 

“I’m very much looking forward to more programs and impact, more student executive events/campaigns and more batyr@RMIT collaborations in the months (and hopefully) years ahead!" 

OurHerd has now officially launched after the Impact Agency student team presented their solution at the Impact Agency Showcase on Friday 15 October.

Promotional image for batyr's mental health storytelling app, OurHerd

How it works: using AI and machine learning to support OurHerd’s risk management and safety practices

The system uses a state-of-the-art language model to analyse the sentiment and risk levels of the stories submitted to OurHerd in close to real-time.

The language model is based on the transformer architecture of deep learning that was learned from hundreds of thousands of online posts in public datasets to weigh the significance of words when processing the text.

The transformer-based language model analyses each and every sentence in the story providing in-depth insights and pinpointing significant statements.

The output of the system is therefore easily interpretable and can be used to triage an appropriate prompt response.

Supporting the wellbeing of our staff and students 

batyr is a valued RMIT partner and an essential part of the University’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing five-year strategy

RMIT Activator Program Delivery Lead Sukanya Banerjee said the batyr project within Impact Agency has added another layer to RMIT and batyr’s relationship.

“It’s an exciting and unique example of the RMIT advocating for students’ wellbeing, through meaningful mental health and wellbeing initiatives, plus learning opportunities that have an impact in the real world,” she said.

“We’re proud to see RMIT and batyr’s partnership ingrained in OurHerd’s development and look forward to seeing it having an impact on the staff and student-inclusive Health, Safety and Wellbeing strategy too.”

In future months and years both parties, along with RMIT students, will work together to further develop this technology with the ultimate goal of achieving better wellbeing outcomes for young people.

In addition to the partnership between the Impact Agency and OurHerd, RMIT’s Mental Health and Wellbeing team have been working with batyr to engage and support students via: 

  • The delivery of 20 programs to students over a 12-month period
  • The creation of a Student Executive Committee to drive initiatives on campus
  • 12 student-led mental wellbeing events on campus
  • Two Being Herd speaker development workshops 

To find out more about Impact Agency and its projects, please email Sukanya Banerjee:

27 October 2021


27 October 2021


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