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These Chatbots Are Helping With Mental Health Right Now

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March 2, 2021
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Chatbots: Technology that Cares

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Mental Health and Why New Tools Are So Important

Delivering proper care to those with mental health needs has always been a challenge.

In 2019, the WHO reported that depression affects over 264 million people, and almost 800,000 people die by suicide each year. Additionally, they state that psychological illnesses are the leading global cause of disability as they make up over 10% of the global burden of disease and 30% of non-fatal disease burden.

It is estimated that about 26% of American adults have a diagnosable mental disorder.  

These illnesses manifest in different ways and can affect people of all ages, races, and genders. One common challenge among those afflicted is visiting the clinic or hospital for treatment; this is often due to the fear of the stigma surrounding mental health.

Enter chatbots!

Tech companies worldwide are combining the power of artificial intelligence with the portability of smartphones to create chatbots tuned to help patients with mental health concerns. These conversational agents support patients while offering a high level of privacy and anonymity.

According to user reviews and recommendations, the following are some of the best:

Five Great Mental Health Chatbots

1. Woebot

Woebot was created in 2017 to assist patients and clinicians in monitoring the moods of its users. The bot allows patients to express their thoughts when they engage in therapeutic conversations. Initially built for young adults and graduate school students, Woebot utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

CBT is a widely used practice that teaches patients to identify and then change destructive thought patterns. The UK National Health Service believes CBT is one of the surest paths to health for those suffering from common psychological conditions.  

Woebot for mental health

Source: ADAA

To build their chatbot, the developers utilized natural language processing with a high level of clinical expertise. The result is an AI that carries a daily light-hearted conversation with its user, which creates a positive therapeutic experience.

Depending on the user’s responses to its questions, Woebot sends videos and suggests other useful tools.

To test the bot’s efficacy, Stanford University conducted a two-week study on 70 students between ages 18 and 28. The subjects underwent up to 20 sessions with Woebot, after which most reported feeling better than they had previously.

Woebot is available for Android and iOS devices and was launched on the Facebook Messenger platform. It carries conversations in English and creates a weekly graph that monitors mood changes. The app comes with a free two-week trial. After that, users who choose to continue their therapy must pay a registration fee of $39.

2. Moodkits

According to Healthline, Moodkits was one of the best apps for depression in 2017. This chatbot also draws inspiration from CBT with a combination of activity tools that suggest proper steps users can take to improve their mental health.

Created by Thriveport, a mobile development company that agreed to build the bot in 2010, Moodkits is available for download on the Apple store for only $5.

3. Moodnotes

Moodnotes is another useful bot created by Thriveport.

Patients manually type in their mood for the day, rate it, and then record their emotions. Moodnotes then asks a series of insightful questions to understand and categorize the user’s thought patterns. It points out errors in thinking like needless worrying, emotional reasoning, or generalizing.

The app assists patients in reflecting on their emotions and then creating more positivity.

With both an English and a Spanish version, Moodnotes is available on the Apple store and costs $3.99 to download.

4. Wysa

An AI-based, emotionally intelligent chatbot, Wysa helps manage thoughts and emotions via a combination of tools and techniques like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), evidence-based CBT, and guided meditation.

It was developed by Touchkin, is compatible with Android and iOS devices, and utilizes the Facebook Messenger platform as its interface. Although the app is available for free, the premium version costs $29.99 and it grants access to a human coach who focuses on more patient-specific treatment.

Wysa is available in 30 countries, with India, the UK, and the US being its top adopters.

5. Youper

Youper created an AI chatbot that monitors and improves emotional health via a quick, personalized conversation based on CBT and mindfulness techniques.

Youper

Source: Source: Elg

As well as mood tracking, the app offers meditation instruction. As it learns more about the user, it fine-tunes the experience to better fit needs.

Youper, available on the Apple and Google Play stores, was recently awarded the best app for coping with COVID-19 by Health.com.

Chatbots and Mental Health: The Takeaways

1. Chatbots, since they provide privacy, anonymity, and ease of access, can be extremely useful in addressing the delicate issue of mental health.

2. Not only can chatbots serve as companions for people who battle with mental disorders, but they can offer personalized therapy that incorporates concepts like CBT, DBT, and mindfulness.

3. With AI that utilizes machine learning and natural language processing, chatbots are excelling as a remedies for mental health disorders.

4. Technology continues to astound! As the world marches toward more tech-based medicine, we can expect the creation of even more robust and effective AI-based chatbots and treatment platforms.

Leave a comment and/or share if you’re compelled! Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out AIM Blog for more articles about medicine and technology.

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SOHAIL MERCHANT
Youngstown, Ohio

Medical Doctor (M.D.); Research Fellow at Lumen Foundation Artificial Intelligence Division

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