Role of Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots in Mental Health

Role of Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots in Mental Health

Over the past few years, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in psychiatry has increased in response to the expanding demand for better access to mental health solutions. The burden of mental disease has also increased globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s shortage of mental health professionals. 

AI programs are already available that can help with psycho education, symptom tracking, disease course prediction, and psychiatric diagnoses. Online accessibility, mobile apps, and online games are examples of delivery methods for AI mental health treatment.

In the form of chat and therapy bots, computer-generated images of faces that serve as the foundation for avatar therapy, and conversational applications that teach users emotional coping mechanisms and support people with communication challenges. And intelligent animal-like robots with new developments in digital psychiatry are a few of the emerging AI-based interventions. 

The use of AI chatbots in therapeutic settings has several advantageous effects, and it is anticipated that this trend will continue to have an impact on psychiatry.

Digital Mental Health Interventions (DMHI)

Recently, people have become more concerned about their mental health, especially after the pandemic. It has become easier to access in-person care without the traditional way of visiting a doctor. With the advent of the internet and technology and the increase in smartphone usage, digital solutions to mental health care have become a crucial area to address. 

Recently, the digital mental health care industry has started integrating artificial intelligence into the existing platforms to create helpful AI-powered products. Some of those products help in biomarker monitoring, mental health triage, health counseling, and personalization of content. 

The utilization of chatbots is also another useful AI-enabled program that can have a conversation with a human user. Most of these chatbots are designed to deal with people with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, stress, etc. These chatbots are also called conversational agents or relational agents. 

Many chatbots are also developed to deal with patients with autism, substance abuse, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any phobia to enhance positive psychological constructs. These chatbots can help people by providing psychological well-being, mindfulness, self-compassion, and positive self-esteem. 

While developing chatbots, various groups have been segregated, like children, adults, senior citizens, etc. Artificial intelligence is making potential growth in the field of AI-based chatbots within DHMI for the positive well-being of humans. 

Weakness of AI Chatbots

Although there are several advantages to having an AI-powered chatbot for people who need mental health care, there are also a few disadvantages. We know that humans program chatbots, and it can be challenging to teach them distinct humanitarian traits, incredibly when comprehending human language. 

It can be challenging for a chatbot to understand a user’s responses. The chatbot may misinterpret the meaning because it is not proficient in interpreting metaphors, ellipses, or colloquialisms. Hence, it can be fruitful if chatbots are programmed in various languages. 

Moreover, there have been complaints that users’ interactions with chatbots become repetitive after a while, making the chatbot feel less human-like. Furthermore, it reduces the motivation of a user to continue the conversation, which can be harmful to some patients. 

Therefore, even if chatbots are helpful in this field, there are many other ways in which they can deter users from engaging with the intervention. It may even be dangerous because the risks associated with the misunderstandings of a chatbot are more when it is being used for diagnostic purposes. 

Ongoing Research 

Chatbot technology is unique and experimental, and there is limited research on mental health chatbots. Recently, there has been a rapid growth of AI in DHMI, and research is still going on regarding AI-enabled chatbots. Many important questions are associated with using AI-powered chatbots and their usage in DHMI, especially as they expand to perform more functions in the future. 

Final Thought

Despite the technological advancements in this area, mental health professionals have only sometimes welcomed modern tools. The delayed diffusion-innovation process in the mental health community may be shown by some psychiatrists who prioritize interpersonal interactions with patients. 

Furthermore, risk evaluations are becoming increasingly complex and may even happen after harm has already been done because of the quickly expanding adoption of mental health applications. Future research should focus on integrating Artificial Intelligence into clinical practice and the effectiveness of AI-based therapies in large, controlled trials.

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