Several medical professionals are working together to use artificial intelligence to provide immediate relief for people with depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are pressing mental health concerns, as these conditions may, unfortunately, lead to suicide. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death in the United States, with the number of people committing the act already at a 30-year high. Right now, two groups are developing AI solutions that aim to improve the condition of people with depression and anxiety by providing daily evaluation and personalized insight. These groups are headed by Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Dr. Allison Darcy, the CEO and founder of Woebot.
Dr. Insel's group is currently working on a project dubbed as Mindstrong. This project hopes to transform smartphones into a device that diagnoses the emotional condition of an individual. Researchers observed that people use their devices differently depending on their current emotional state. An anxious or depressed person may open different applications and access a distinct set of websites compared to a person who is not going through the same mental health conditions. The software attempts to record the use patterns of a certain individual and then process the gathered information to provide insights about the mental state of a person. The insights produced by the AI are then sent to a doctor, making it easier to monitor a patient.
On the other hand, Dr. Darcy is working on an AI-powered chatbot dubbed as Woebot. The chatbot was developed to provide an avenue for depressed people to speak about their mental health condition. It has been proven that talking about their mood daily improves the chances of patients to succeed in their bout against depression and anxiety. The chatbot is currently available on Facebook's chat service, Messenger, making it available to more than a billion monthly active users that currently access the service. It is important to point out, however, that AI solutions do not replace human therapy. Dr. Darcy noted that people with depression need greater access to medical experts and therapists that could help them with their condition as AI tools only provide immediate relief to people.