“What mental health needs are more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
After reading the above-written quote, you must be thinking about why unashamed conversation is there. Well, let me tell you, the stigma attached to mental health stops people from sharing their problems with others. Or, to put it more simply, it barely takes a minute to make fun of or mock the person who tries to share the mental issues they are facing. Surprisingly, getting the flu is a health problem, and you have to see a doctor, but not having mental peace is not a big deal.
We are so busy in our lives that we often tend to ignore what people around us are going through from the inside. Or, we just assume that no he/she does not have any problems in their lives, but in reality, a majority of people are experiencing emotional breakdowns, feel nervous, tense, stressed, and lonely. As a result of which they have panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. And the outbreak of coronavirus, isolation because of lockdown, fear, and job cuts among others have triggered severe mental trauma in people across the country.
According to World Health Organisation, in 2019, depression affects over 264 million people, and each year almost 800,000 die by suicide. It doesn't stop here, in fact, psychological illnesses makeup over 10% of the global burden of disease and 30% of non-fatal disease burden and hence are the leading cause of disability.
Mental illnesses have already claimed millions of lives and can affect people of all ages, races, and genders, but still, people avoid visiting the clinic or hospital for treatment due to the fear of the stigma surrounding mental health.
Dr. Robot Will See You Now
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You must be wondering how AI chatbots can help anyone with mental health. It’s simple, we feel very relaxed and calm after sharing our thoughts with other people, and chatbots interact with humans using spoken, written, and visual languages without judging them.
Anyone can freely share their feelings and take advice from chatbots without any hassles or having fear of being judged or mocked. Also, mental health consultation takes high charges which are not possible for everyone to pay while chatbots are mostly free of cost and available 24/7. Apart from that these chatbots emphasize the privacy of the users.
Mental health cases are increasing every day, and there is a shortage of psychiatric professionals available. Even in developed countries, the ratio of psychiatrists professional to patients is 1: 10,000. Chatbots help to minimize this gap to a greater extent. Studies show that people are more comfortable disclosing their mental health issues to anonymous chatbots rather than any human. And the reasons are quite obvious, the fear of being judged, stigmatized or isolated. Also, they are easily found online as they are digital and reach out to millions of people in a tap, anytime, anywhere.
Woebot is a digital therapist founded in 2017 by a team of Stanford psychologists and AI experts to assist patients and clinicians in monitoring the moods of its users. It is a talk therapy chatbot that allows its users to express their thoughts, monitor their moods, and learn about themselves.
Woebot utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a widely used practice that teaches patients to identify and then change destructive thought patterns. When users engage in therapeutic conversations the bot asks how they are feeling and how things are going in life in brief daily 10 minutes (max) conversations. It then stores all the conversation including text and emojis, and its questions and responses. Over a while, the bot monitors the user's mood and based on that addresses mental health and wellness.
The step-by-step guidance offered by Woebot helps you think through situations and learn about yourself with an intelligent mood tracking feature. There are more than 100 evidence-based stories presented by the clinical team which help patients to master skills to reduce stress and live happier. Woebot was launched on Facebook Messenger, and now it is available for Android as well as iOS devices. Based on the conversation it creates a weekly graph that monitors mood changes and carries conversations in English.
Don’t Let Micro Stress Burn-You Out
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Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Moodkit helps you to engage in mood-enhancing activities and it is declared as one of the best apps for depression in 2017 by Healthline. MoodKit offers a variety of tools to its users which identify and change unhealthy thinking. It creates journal entries based on chart mood using custom templates to promote well-being.
This chatbot has a combination of activity tools that includes wellness activities that fall into one of five categories: Productivity, Social, Enjoyment, Physical, and Healthy Habits. It further guides the user through challenging problematic thoughts to track the symptoms. Then the journal records the user’s information for easy access in the future. Also, it offers a wide variety of suggestions for specific steps one can take to improve their mental health.
The bot offers more than 150 mood-lifting activities, all of them are accompanied by examples and tips to help you implement psychological principles and techniques which enhance your well-being and reduce negative feelings.
Created by design experts and clinical psychologists Thriveport (creators of MoodKit), Moodnotes capture your mood and help you improve your thinking habits. The iOS app assists patients to manually type in their mood for the day, rate it, and then record their emotions. Users are asked a series of insightful questions to understand and categorize their thought patterns. Then, based on all the information the bot points out errors in thinking and helps you avoid the common thinking traps.
The app not only assists in reflecting on emotions and creating more positivity but also empowers you to track your mood over time and develop perspectives associated with increased happiness and well-being.
Create Multiple Happiness Streams in Your Life
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Wysa is an AI-based, research-backed, and emotionally intelligent chatbot that is made by using techniques of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), evidence-based CBT, Yoga, and guided meditation. The chatbot helps you overcome stress, anxiety, deep sleep, loss, and other mental health and wellness needs.
Wysa is your happiness buddy which helps you manage your thoughts and emotions and support you through the twists and turns of life by using science as a foundation. Developed by Touchkin, the app is available for Android as well as iOS and makes use of the Facebook Messenger platform as its interface.
The mood tracking feature and friendly chats provide emotional support to its users. Besides, based on your chats it suggests you with meditation and mindfulness audios. Daily spiritual meditation helps improve mental health, feel better and stay relaxed. Also, it builds your personalized toolkit for better coping with depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and grief.
You can have access to all of these for free. Yes, you guessed it right, the app is available for free, but if you want access to a human coach, you have to upgrade to a premium version which costs $29.99.
Youper is an AI chatbot app that makes use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness to help users identify, track, and process their thoughts and feelings.
The app offers you a free mental health assessment to understand your symptoms, and based on that it builds a personalized plan to feel your best again. It asks you to identify the reason behind your current feeling and then recommend your therapy exercise guided by the AI Therapy technique. In case you need medication, it delivers the prescribed medicines to your door. It provides you with regular checkups to keep track of your progress.
In a study done in collaboration with scientists from Stanford University, it was found that Youper reduces anxiety and depression symptoms by 20% in just two weeks.
The advancement in technology has given us huge benefits and helping to battle mental disorders is a huge benefit. Mental health is a delicate issue, and these chatbots turn out to be extremely helpful companions for people who battle with mental health issues. With these apps, you have got a psychologist in your pocket who provides you privacy, anonymity, ease of access, and offers personalized therapy.
Contributor: Jyotsana Rani
Jyotsana is very keen to express her views on new topics and wants readers to remember her through her writing. She is passionate about reading and believes that words wield the power of changing the scenario and she uses them to encourage people to the best of her knowledge.
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