Woebot – a chatbot app for mental health
Meet Woebot, a friendly, robotic voice who wants to help you manage your mental health. . . and it seems to be working.
Anxiety and depression can have a real impact on people’s lives. Mind (UK mental health charity) found that nearly half of all public sector workers have been forced to take time off because of problems with their mental health.
But help is at hand, in the form of a small, chatty robot. CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) is a really effective way to manage many mental illnesses by helping the sufferer to reframe their concerns, and build a slightly different perspective. What Woebot does is a friendly kind of “self-service CBT”.
Created by Alison Darcy (ex Stanford) and her team, Woebot checks in with you everyday for a quick chat, and to see how you are feeling. Over time it builds up patterns of your mood, and suggests strategies you might use to feel better, or cope in a more resilient way.
The experience is quirkily pleasant. You are clearly aware you are talking to a bot, and Woebot is very clear with you about what it can, and cannot do. But at the same time has just enough chatty dialog and cute use of icons and baby hedgehog pictures that you can’t help feeling the experience is a bit more more personal.
To quote Alison: “Woebot delivers a guided self-help version of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), the most rigorously studied therapeutic approach across diagnoses, especially mood disorders like anxiety and depression. He talks to you about how you are feeling, and teaches you about negative thought patterns and other ways we undermine our own happiness, so you learn how to best address your problems in the future.”
If you are thinking about the ethics of all this, Woebot is cheerfully upfront about its approach, offering you a page on what it believes.
The technology seems like a clever mix of good scripting, some pre-defined narrative paths and a light dusting of natural language processing.
The crew here at WorkLearnMobile think Woebot is pretty cool. A perfect use for mobile – reaching out to people that need help in a subtle, yet ongoing way. Using the power of the “mobile nudge” to help modify your own behaviour. Helping adults take charge of their own lives.
Originally designed for younger adults (aged 18-28), Woebot has been embraced by a much wider range of ages. It has been active on facebook for a while, but took a bold leap into mobile last week, with the launch of a free, brand new iOS app.
Could Woebot help you, or your employees? Why not give it a try.
We wish Woebot well in this new mobile app venture.
ps: If you would like more info about dealing with mental health issues, check out NHS or MIND sites below: