A conversational user interface, or chatbot is “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet”. The ChatPal consortium is developing a chatbot called ChatPal to support mental health and wellbeing of people in rural areas of Northern Europe. In a recent survey undertaken by the team, 65% of the mental healthcare professionals surveyed agreed that there were benefits associated with mental healthcare chatbots, yet the perceived adoption among clients at 24 is quite low. The survey also found that as people’s experience grows, so too does their belief that the use of chatbots can improve the quality of care, client self-management, access to care and can assist mental healthcare workers in their roles. Even though the level of personal experience with chatbots among professionals in mental health has been quite low, this survey shows that, where they have been used, the experience has been mostly satisfactory.
As a consequence of the positive findings from the survey and in order to help those isolated, the ChatPal chatbot was implemented ahead of schedule in order to offer support to people in English-speaking Europe while the continent was under COVID-19 lockdown. ChatPal was made available in areas with ChatPal consortium organisations: Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland, via app download from Android and Apple app stores.
The findings from this early trial are interesting and reflect normal app usage in society. Finding specific to the trial will be reported at the conference.
ChatPal consortium acknowledges the support provided by the Interreg VB Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme under the grant for Conversational Interfaces Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing of People in Sparsely Populated Areas (ChatPal) project number 345.
|Conference||9th European Conference on Mental Health|
|Period||30/09/20 → 2/10/20|