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Mental Health & Conversational UI

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

One of the technologies that I am very curious and excited about is Conversational UI.

But what is most interesting to me is how we can use conversational UI to help people with mental disorders, more importantly Bipolar Disorder.

Voice recognition, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence have led to building many conversation agents which can mimic human conversation using text and spoken language. example of that would be Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri.

While technologies where emerging Psychologists started thinking how they can use this technology to help their patients. They started to think about it when they realized that there are a lot of people in the world who do not have health care or even access to a psychologies in order to solve some of their mental health issues.

So how they used Conversational UI you ask??

They used Conversational UI in applications that target individuals and are developed to check on patients, be ready to listen and chat anytime, anywhere, and recommend activities that improve the users' wellbeing.

One of the most recent examples of these Applications is Woebot.

Woebot was designed by a team of psychologists, data scientists, engineers, and designers who were brought together to write stories in order to help their patients. They launched their app a year ago (2017) in Stanford ,CA.

The app asks users how they’re feeling and what is going on in their lives, talks to them about mental health and wellness, and sends videos and other useful tools depending on the user’s current mood and needs.

In a recent study conducted by Stanford University over a two-week period, 70 students aged 18-28 who had up to 20 sessions with Woebot reported significant decreases in their feelings of anxiety and depression, compared to an information-only control group. Among the non-control group, as much as 85% of participants used Woebot on a daily or almost daily basis. It is unclear what the longer term impacts of app use are for well-being, and it’s clear that much more formal research will have to be conducted in the years ahead.

There are many many more apps that were developed before Weobot, and many more to come. Conversational UI proved to be helpful and useful in having some of the mental health conditions under control.

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