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The pros and cons of using chatbots for mental health issues

Posted at 3:41 PM, Feb 15, 2023

The mental health issues many people started experiencing during the pandemic have given way to the rise in mental health chatbots.

The chatbots use artificial intelligence to communicate about mental health.

A 2021 survey by Woebot Health, one of the chatbot companies, found 22% of adults have used a chatbot for mental health. Even more, 44%, say they use chatbots exclusively.

They're attractive because people can use them anywhere, and get information quickly, at an affordable rate.

Experts say chatbots can be a good tool, but they caution that there are some drawbacks.

"The bot might help someone in creating a stronger, deeper relationship, but it's not going to replace that relationship," said Josh Wyner, professor of Marriage & Family Therapy at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Wyner also said people should keep in mind that bots only know what we tell them.

"It's only as good as the information you feed it," he said. "And right now mental health is still not as culturally competent as we would like."

Wyner adds that treating people with cultural awareness and without bias are examples of connections that set real therapists apart from bots.