- Woebot is an app that works as a therapist
- It uses natural language processing and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Andrew Ng sits on the board of directors as the chairman
Talking to a therapist is not something most people can do, or can afford. People suffering from mental health issues often go undiagnosed throughout their lives.
Thanks to the recent uptick in machine learning, healthcare has seen a sharp rise in applications and products targeted towards people who previously were not able to afford treatment.
Woebot was launched by a team of Stanford psychologists and AI experts last year. Andrew Ng joined it’s board of directors as the chairman soon after. It is a talk therapy chatbot for people who struggle with mental health issues. The app was launched for iOS earlier this year and has been made accessible for Android users recently.
The chatbot can do a variety of things:
- It can track your mood and show the mood changes visually
- Accessible 24/7 and helps you fell better
- Teaches you techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy
Anna Maxted, a writer for ‘The Times’ recently shared her experience with the tool. You can get a glimpse of how the chatbot works in the below conversation:
Woebot monitors daily, one-on-one interactions with users using natural language processing (NLP) to deliver a self-guided version of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is the most effective treatment for mental health problems.
It has been found that the burden of mental health problems has doubled in the past decade. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability globally with over 300 million people affected each year. The intention of creating Woebot was to provide continuous support to the people suffering from anxiety and depression.
It is already being used in 130 countries, getting more than two million messages per week, which is a remarkable start.
Our take on this
Woebot is a very useful foray into the world of digital mental healthcare but it cannot (yet) replace a human connection. Having said that, it’s still a welcome change and should help people around the world deal with their everyday issues. Not everyone has the time and money to get personal counseling.
The field of digital healthcare is still ripe for data scientists – the amount of data available encourages researchers in this field to find cures and prevention measures for various illnesses, both physical and mental. You can see machine learning competitions being hosted on popular sites encouraging people to come up with new solutions to old problems. Here’s hoping the trend continues with even better and accurate results in the future.
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