These are certainly trying times for everyone. Due to the pandemic and the many disruptions it’s caused, we’re all struggling with some level of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
Thankfully, psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, programmers, and other professionals have come up with ways to help us manage our state of mind remotely, eliminating the added stress, risk, and—let’s say it—expense of face-to-face therapy.
One of the easiest avenues to try out is artificial-intelligence-powered therapy or mental health chatbot applications. Let’s see what a couple of these apps have to offer.
- Woebot is a “fully automated conversational agent” available on both iOS and Android devices. Presented as a little robot friend, Woebot has been praised for its game-like interface – you start your daily check-in by choosing an emoji that describes what you’re feeling, which leads to a deeper conversation that stays supportive and humorous. Each interaction—described as steps in a choose-your-own-adventure journey—takes ten minutes or less, since you can stop any time you want.
Woebot primarily uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an evidence-based, scientific approach. It tracks your moods and progress over time, helping you identify negative thinking patterns, explore potential underlying factors, and find strategies to work through them, in a way that feels comfortable and all but organic.
- Wysa, also available via Android and iOS, lets you interact with a cute, playful penguin AI, and the daily check-in consists of sliding up or down on a big yellow emoji face to reflect how you’re feeling. Wysa tends to ask open-ended questions, rather than a more guided approach, and prompts you for monitoring and more information. These can make the app more in-depth and more useful to some users but may be harassing to others.
Wysa provides a broader range of therapeutic techniques than Woebot, harnessing not just CBT, but also Dialectical Behavior Therapy, meditation, breathing, yoga, and more, to build you a “toolkit” that helps improve focus, relaxation, and conflict management. It also offers optional live sessions with human coaches, for under Php1,500 a month.
These apps—which guarantee confidentiality—shouldn’t replace professional therapy, especially if you already have established issues. There are also many other mental health apps worth exploring, but these ones are free, fun, simple ways to help sustain your mental and emotional well-being.