Could AI be the secret to managing our mental health?

Talking to a bot about how you’re feeling may sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but the technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we treat – and even prevent – mental health problems. CR investigates the possibilities of AI therapy

It’s no secret that our mental health services are buckling under the pressure at the moment. While one in four people will experience some kind a mental disorder in their lifetime, and more of us are willing to openly discuss our mental health experiences than ever, the gulf between acknowledgement and treatment remains huge. According to mental charity Mind, 75% of people in England who are experiencing mental health problems are still not getting access to the treatment they need.

Over the last few years, cash-strapped and time-poor health organisations such as the NHS have increasingly been looking to the tech sector for solutions. VR therapy is currently being trialled by a number of NHS trusts as a new treatment option for phobias, while brands such as Elvie are stepping up when it comes to innovation in women’s health, with products such as its pelvic floor trainer and cordless breast pump.

Method’s project, FINE, was developed to encourage children to speak more openly about their mental health

AI is already having an impact on our approach to diagnosing and developing treatments for physical health problems, but what about its untapped potential when it comes to mental health? This was the challenge that strategic design consultancy Method set itself during one of its recent self-initiated projects, FINE, which aimed to encourage young people (one of the most at risk groups, according to the Mental Health Foundation) to talk more openly about their mental health.