A Mental Health Chatbot with Cognitive Skills for Personalised Behavioural Activation and Remote Health Monitoring
journal contributionposted on 2022-05-26, 06:19 authored by Prabod Manuranga Rathnayaka MudiyanselagePrabod Manuranga Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage, Nishakaran MillsNishakaran Mills, Donna BurnettDonna Burnett, Daswin De SilvaDaswin De Silva, Damminda AlahakoonDamminda Alahakoon, Richard GrayRichard Gray
Mental health issues are at the forefront of healthcare challenges facing contemporary human society. These issues are most prevalent among working-age people, impacting negatively on the individual, his/her family, workplace, community, and the economy. Conventional mental healthcare services, although highly effective, cannot be scaled up to address the increasing demand from affected individuals, as evidenced in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversational agents, or chatbots, are a recent technological innovation that has been successfully adapted for mental healthcare as a scalable platform of cross-platform smartphone applications that provides first-level support for such individuals. Despite this disposition, mental health chatbots in the extant literature and practice are limited in terms of the therapy provided and the level of personalisation. For instance, most chatbots extend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) into predefined conversational pathways that are generic and ineffective in recurrent use. In this paper, we postulate that Behavioural Activation (BA) therapy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are more effectively materialised in a chatbot setting to provide recurrent emotional support, personalised assistance, and remote mental health monitoring. We present the design and development of our BA-based AI chatbot, followed by its participatory evaluation in a pilot study setting that confirmed its effectiveness in providing support for individuals with mental health issues.