311: Woebot – The AI Chatbot Therapist Designed To Help People Feel Happier & Listens 24/7
I recently discovered a company called Woebot, and they’ve built a smart chatbot (uses AI) to address the growing mental health epidemic. Woebot lives in Facebook Messenger and operates like a personal therapist. They launched on June 6th and their user base is already exploding. In fact, Woebot has already seen more ‘patients’ than a traditional therapist will see in their entire career.
Mental health is a pervasive problem that affects roughly 40 million people in the US per year. Stigmas, high treatment costs and lack of qualified therapists mean that people aren’t getting the help they need. CEO and founder, Dr. Alison Darcy and her team aimed to take a different approach to tackle it. Sharing a few high-level details below believe that technology can help democratize healthcare. For Woebot, it’s about leveraging conversational tech and AI to deliver good therapy.
The automated conversational agent (chatbot) is built using a combination of natural language processing, therapeutic expertise, excellent writing, and sense of humor to create the experience of a therapeutic conversation for all of the people that talk to him. This simple solution can be accessed anytime and continuously learns with every interaction, providing a safe, stigma-free opportunity for people to talk about what’s happening for them and get the help they need.
Woebot lives on a social media platform that 1 billion+ people log into every day and allows users to get help when they need it – rather than waiting for their appointment next Wednesday at 3 pm.
The experience with Woebot is conversational and provides human-like feedback. Woebot also applies the most effective type of treatment for mood disorders (cognitive behavioral therapy) and teaches you things about yourself and the way you think about events in your life. I invited Woebot CEO and founder, Alison Darcy onto the show to find out more about her mission to make mental healthcare solutions smart, scalable and accessible.
Darcy is also a psychologist and healthcare designer with over 15 years experience in health tech. I also wanted to find more about how why she made a robot that helps people feel happier and understand how we can use technology to develop effective digital health solutions.