December 8, 2023


Health Can Do

Study: Chatbots are effective in supporting self-management of depression symptoms

Study: Chatbots are effective in supporting self-management of depression symptoms

A research from Singapore has evaluated the effectiveness of mental wellbeing chatbots in aiding reduce signs and symptoms of despair.

Preceding studies have pointed out chatbots’ prospective in serving to men and women with depression in treating their signs.

This new research by clinician physicians from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medication at Nanyang Technological University Singapore set out to appraise the dialogues in between chatbots and users for the initial time. 


The review, whose conclusions have been a short while ago published in the Journal of Affective Ailments, tested nine mental health chatbots with at the very least 500,000 downloads every single from important application retailers. 4 of these applications – Marvin, Serenity, Woebot, and 7 Cups – are absolutely free-to-use although the remaining 5, Happify, InnerHour, Wooper, Wysa and Tomo, are membership-based. 

They have been evaluated applying scripted person personas that had been created to reflect distinct cultures, ages, and genders, as perfectly as various ranges of depressive symptoms.

The exploration crew assessed the high quality and effectiveness of the chatbots’ responses, the degree of personalisation and appropriateness in supporting self-administration of depression, and how they conveyed empathy to end users. Their research also observed how the chatbots guided buyers to interact in or full mood-boosting things to do and how they watch moods and managed suicide challenges. 

Dependent on the findings, the chatbots shown a “coach-like” persona that is encouraging, nurturing, and motivating. They all engaged in empathetic and non-judgmental conversations with users and supplied support and steering by means of psychotherapeutic routines usually utilized by psychologists and counsellors.

Even so, they have however to deliver personalised tips. The review prompt potential analysis is needed to improve these instruments for people at threat of suicide and to evaluate the extended-time period performance of chatbot-led interventions for psychological health.

“Chatbots are not nonetheless in a position to deliver personalised suggestions and do not ask adequate own queries – possibly to prevent breaching user anonymity. However, these chatbots could continue to be a valuable alternative for people today in want especially those who are not in a position to accessibility clinical assistance. For some folks, it is less complicated to speak to a machine than a human remaining,” discussed Dr Laura Martinengo, LKCMedicine investigate fellow. 

Moreover, the chatbots taken care of the confidentiality of users’ particular information and facts, which include chat heritage, names, and addresses, with out storing or transfering them.

WHY IT Matters

About 50 % of the more than 250 million depression conditions globally are undiagnosed and untreated, in accordance to the Planet Health Firm. Health care systems worldwide are nonetheless overcome with both soaring COVID-19 scenarios and people displaying up with psychological health considerations. 

For Josip Car, professor and director of the Centre for Population Well being Sciences at LKCMedicine, digital health resources, this kind of as chatbots, “could help in providing timely treatment to folks who may possibly be unwilling or not able to check with a healthcare provider.”

There also seemed a growing interest in working with psychological health chatbots a examine by US-centered Woebot Health and fitness very last 12 months found that virtually 50 percent of its AI chatbot end users polled are prepared to converse with a mental wellbeing chatbot.

Current market SNAPSHOT

This year observed investments coming into psychological well being chatbots. Virtually nine months since it acquired a breakthrough machine designation by the US Foods and Drug Administration, Woebot Health and fitness obtained $9.5 million from Leaps by Bayer in March. An additional chatbot, Wysa, also scored $20 million in a Sequence B funding spherical, the proceeds of which will be applied to support much more languages and get on WhatsApp.