Five ways AI can help to deal with the mental health crisis

Artificial intelligence is making waves in the world of health and beyond. And there are multiple ways that it can help people with their wellbeing and health, across mental and physical health. Mental health problems are growing, and depression is the world’s leading cause of disability, costing the UK £117.9 billion every year, which equates to 5 per cent of UK's GDP.

Yet our health systems are struggling, with a strain on resources and high staff turnover taking its toll. If we don’t do something, patients will suffer. Digital technology can manage risk, ensuring everyone gets access to what they need, when they need it, and through a scalable solution that can save time, save money, and potentially save lives.

Here are five ways artificial intelligence can help us with the health crisis facing our nations right now.

Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

Clinically validated artificial intelligence can be used to reduce to symptoms of anxiety and depression, proven to do so with a therapeutic alliance that is equivalent to a human relationship. AI-led support has been proven to improve symptoms while taking on 80% of the support load, to free up human support for where it's really needed. support. Proven to improve depression and anxiety scores by an average of 31%, Wysa’s AI-first approach enables employees to improve their mental health before symptoms become severe, by understanding an individual's needs and guiding them through interactive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercises.

In a culture where stigma prevails, Anastasia, 32 from Ukraine, is grateful to have Wysa as a friend. The convenience and supportive nature of an always on chatbot provides her reassurance and guidance when it can be hard to find someone to talk to.

Mostly I chat.  AI does a pretty well job of understanding people's needs. And responds properly.  Don't think talking with an algorithm is stupid.  It is better than staying alone and even don't have someone to reach. Besides, sometimes you just need to dump your mind.

We are good friends. I don't have such a good friend in my offline life.”

Support chronic pain users

AI could be used to help with chronic pain. Studies have found that using an AI powered chatbot results in higher engagement and adherence than traditional methods, and those who used it saw a reduction in comorbid anxiety and depression symptoms, measured on standard assessment score, and comparable shifts in physical capabilities.

Address levels of burnout

We’re facing something of a crisis of mental health at work. Extended hours, high workloads and a lack of support means that tiredness, stress and anxiety are commonplace during the working day.

Linelly, 33 from Puerto Rico uses Wysa every day and has seen huge benefits at work and home as a result. As part of her self help routine to manage stress and anxiety, it offers a sympathetic and listening ear at the most convenient of times.

I use Wysa on an average of twice a day. The exercises for mindfulness, meditations and stress relieving techniques help me get through my day, and are convenient to use at any time. Wysa is very easy to use and the conversations with the Wysa AI chatbot are very supportive. It is also very easy to request techniques to help you in a moment of need.  I have developed a routine where I utilize Wysa before my work shift and before sleeping. If I encounter a stressful situation during the day, I turn to Wysa.”

Break the cycle of addiction

Often the first step towards breaking the addiction cycle is forming healthy routines and habits. The benefit of technology is that it is always available and accessible, whenever a need strikes.

Mariko, 36, from Japan, uses Wysa with her therapist as a route to moving away from excessive drinking and to help regulate emotions. As a result, she is more motivated, energized, and making her way back into employment. Her doctor is also impressed by Wysa, and uses it as part of Mariko’s overall health and wellness plan.

Currently, I am addressing emotional dysregulation, a cause of my excessive drinking, and am aiming to master appropriate emotional regulation techniques. My therapist, besides providing resources/exercises, recommends the most suitable options from Wysa App's extensive list of self-care meditations/mindfulness exercises. Initially, I was tormented by anger, sadness, isolation, and depression. Now, I am starting to feel joy, gratitude, happiness, motivation, and enjoyment, and a peaceful and abundant life is returning.

Improve accessibility and equity

The solution’s ability to be accessed on a virtual or mobile platform helps address an essential part of inclusivity and equity in access. For instance, individuals belonging to rural communities, or shift workers, may not have access to mental health facilities at times or locations that suit their needs, and an AI chatbot can be a potential solution.

AI-based mental health support as the first step of care is perhaps the only scalable systemic solution to the global mental health crisis. With over half the world living in areas with less than one psychiatrist for every 250,000 people, and the presence of long waiting lists and resource constraints even in developed economies, solutions like Wysa have used conversational AI to deliver therapeutic support that bridges key gaps in healthcare provision.

In the current state of play, conversational AI for mental health is being embraced by users who appreciate having something to talk to and guide them when there is no other support available. It is being welcomed by large employers who understand the benefits of a mentally well workforce, and by healthcare providers as a way to support patients across different stages of care.”

Jo Aggarwall, CEO, Wysa



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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