An AI chatbot for mental health and behavioral therapy
A big factor is labor shortage – there are only a certain number of psychiatrists currently registered- with an ever growing need of mental health help among populations. An AI chatbot could use deep learning and natural language processing to 'converse' with people experiencing mental health issues and provide advice based on established techniques like cognitive behavior therapy.
Wysa, which has secured $1.3 million in investment and took part in Facebook’s incubation program, earns revenue through licensing its AI to large-volume clients.
Ramakant Vempati and Jo Aggarwal, both tech consultants from India, are addressing the problem with their AI chatbot Wysa. Developed in collaboration with researchers at Columbia and Cambridge Universities, as well as mental health practitioners, each technique is rigorously tested and clinically validated for use in a self-help context, with all interactions anonymised for privacy. The chatbot is accessed through a free smartphone app. The potential Joshi is one of 1.25 million users in 30 countries so far. The company says that 45% of users reported reduced symptoms of depression. “Three people wrote to us to say that Wysa saved their life,” says Aggarwal. While the service is not intended to replace therapists, it can provide a bridge across cultural, geographical and economic barriers for people who need mental health care but cannot easily access or afford it.