Chat Therapy: Woebot Is A Physiatrist On Your Smartphone

In recent news, there have been reports of suicides on some Ghanaian campuses. This lead to lots of coverage on TV and radio stations, talking about the state of depression especially among the youth. Ghanaians don’t really talk or pay much attention to mental health problems.

But one company wants to help people who deal with depression. They have created a chatbot which they say helps users.

Woebot, a chatbot built by Stanford University psychologist Dr. Alison Darcy, has been clinically shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Woebot uses brief daily conversations, mood tracking, curated videos and word games, as well as principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a short-term, goal-oriented treatment, to rewire the thoughts of users that negatively affect how they feel.

Woebot: Image Credit – woebot.io

Woebot works in the Facebook Messenger app and is available 24/7. Woebot is joining online mental health services like Talkspace to provide online help for people dealing with mental issues.

Backed By Research

It’s easy to be skeptical about a chatbot which can help people with depression. But Woebot is backed by research out of Stanford University School of Medicine.

A study on its effectiveness recently came out in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Mental Health.

No Free Meals

You can actually try out Woebot right now using a two-week free trial. After trial, that’s when you have to cough up some money. Woebot will cost you $39 per month and you can cancel anytime.

The Woebot is targeted at mostly young people including university and graduate students who can’t really afford the regular couch therapy. Woebot targets those same demographic because they are more likely to use digital products like smartphones and online chats.

Not A Human Replacement

The makers of Woebot do stress however, that even though their app can help people suffering from depression, it is not a replacement for human help. They stress that if you’re really in a bad spot, they can type “SOS” for a list of resources including emergency phone numbers to call for help.