Can Chatbots Help Support a Person’s Mental Health? Perceptions and Views from Mental Healthcare Professionals and Experts

Colm Sweeney, Courtney Potts, Edel Ennis, RR Bond, Maurice Mulvenna, Siobhan O'Neill, Martin Malcolm, Lauri Kuosmanen, Catrine Kostenius, Alex Vakaloudis, Gavin McConvey, Robin Turkington, David Hanna, Heidi Nieminen, Anna-Kaisa Vartiainen, Alison Robertson, Michael McTear

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to understand the attitudes of professionals who work in mental health regarding the use of conversational user interfaces, or chatbots, to support people’s mental health and wellbeing. This study involves an online survey to measure the awareness and attitudes of mental healthcare professionals and experts. The findings from this survey show that over half of the participants in the survey agreed that there are benefits associated with mental healthcare chatbots (65\%, p<0.01). The perceived importance of chatbots was also relatively high (74\%, p<0.01) with more than three quarters (79\%, p<0.01) of respondents agreeing that mental healthcare chatbots could help their clients to better manage their own health, yet chatbots are overwhelmingly perceived as not adequately understanding or displaying human emotion (86\%, p<0.01). Even though the level of personal experience with chatbots among professionals and experts in mental health has been quite low, this study shows that, where they have been used, the experience has been mostly satisfactory. This study has found that, as years of experience increased, there was a corresponding increase in the belief that healthcare chatbots could help clients better manage their own mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalACM Transactions on Computing for Healthcare
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021

Keywords

  • chatbots
  • mental healthcare professionals
  • conversational user interfaces
  • mental health
  • mental health survey

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