Citation

An Empathy-Driven, Conversational Artificial Intelligence Agent (Wysa) for Digital Mental Well-Being: Real-World Data Evaluation Mixed-Methods Study

Author:
Inkster, Becky; Sarda, Shubhankar; Subramanian, Vinod
Publication:
JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Year:
2018

A World Health Organization 2017 report stated that major depression affects almost 5% of the human population. Major depression is associated with impaired psychosocial functioning and reduced quality of life. Challenges such as shortage of mental health personnel, long waiting times, perceived stigma, and lower government spends pose barriers to the alleviation of mental health problems. Face-to-face psychotherapy alone provides only point-in-time support and cannot scale quickly enough to address this growing global public health challenge. Artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled, empathetic, and evidence-driven conversational mobile app technologies could play an active role in filling this gap by increasing adoption and enabling reach. Although such a technology can help manage these barriers, they should never replace time with a health care professional for more severe mental health problems. However, app technologies could act as a supplementary or intermediate support system. Mobile mental well-being apps need to uphold privacy and foster both short- and long-term positive outcomes.