Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating new pathways for mental health. The question is, is it as helpful as it is practical?
Millions of AI in Mental Wellness figures are available to chat with you in a well-known platform, Character.ai, where you can create fictional or nonfictional chatbots. This is where the Psychologist chatbot enters the chat. Allow me to emphasize that this isn’t your typical psychologist. Where it stands right now, Psychologist is one of the most famous mental health bots, seeing an increase in demand by users aged 16 to 30.
Psychologist was created by an MA psychology student, Sam Zaia from New Zealand. According to Zaia, he fed the bot with information during his years of learning in order to shape the answers the bot would give. Most of the answers that were fed to the bot revolved around depression and anxiety, which Zaia mentioned to be the most common health conditions.
Zaia stated, that “I never intended for it to become popular, never intended it for other people to seek or to use as like a tool, then I started getting a lot of messages from people saying that they had been really positively affected by it and were utilizing it as a source of comfort.”
Zaia added that the peak hours of usage of the bot were at 2AM when most users had no friends or family to get in contact. On the other hand, professional psychotherapist Theresa Plewman, had a user experience on psychologist and mentioned that she can see why most of the young generation users use it, but it is not effective.
Theresa said “The bot has a lot to say and quickly makes assumptions, like giving me advice about depression when I said I was feeling sad. That’s not how a human would respond.”
On the same path as the chatbot comes the Smart Mirror of Healthtech pioneer Baracoda. The smart mirror is called BMind, it is powered by AI and the main use of it is for mental wellness. The role of this mirror is to function as what they call a “health companion,” with the capacity to recognize your mood and aid in stress management.
BMind is a touchless, seamless experience that combines gesture recognition, voice command, and intent detection. It is based on a new generation of smart mirror software from the CareOS platform, and offers personalized recommendations and experiences based on a user’s mental state. In the smart home category, BMind’s technology was recently honored with a 2024 Consumer Electronics (CES) Innovation Award.
The only difference between Psychologist and BMind is that Psychologist is powered by a Large Language Model (LLM) which does not have the human capacity for thinking. BMind is powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP). It recognizes various emotions and adjusts to the user’s state of mind by offering light therapy sessions and customized, automatically generated mindfulness activities like self-affirmations and guided meditation.
Whether it was the chatbot or the smart mirror, both are promising ideas and hats off to the creators. The only issue here is that it cannot be used alone. Rather than having people use them on their own, they could be used in the waiting room of therapists. One cannot eliminate the human touch which means having a therapist to observe your body language, hear the tone in your voice, and create connections of what the patient has to say cannot be achieved through AI.
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