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World Mental Health Day: ‘AI conversations can literally save lives’

Andy Wilkins, CEO and co-founder of Futr

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One in eight people worldwide are living with a mental health issue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and it is estimated that depression, anxiety disorders, and other conditions cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. 

Today, on World Mental Health Day, Andy Wilkins, Co-founder and CEO of Futr, has been sharing his thoughts on the role of AI in mental health.

The pandemic highlighted the key role of technology in keeping us connected as we faced adversity.

During this time, AI technology played a significant role as more people began interacting online rather than face-to-face.

Despite emerging from the pandemic, this trend continues as we move towards digital interactions in the metaverse.

Conversational AI can be put to positive and practical use for businesses from all sectors, from public services and community-facing organisations to charities – all offering useful information and signposting, democratising their services and making it accessible to all.

As we mark World Mental Health Day 2022, we are acutely aware of the plight of many people across the country, especially our young people.

But we have also witnessed the power of tech to bring people together and foster much-needed interaction.

More importantly, during the pandemic we saw how tech was used by various sectors to deliver vital services to our communities.

Charities like CALM, Bipolar UK, Brothers in Arms and The Mix have demonstrated the power of AI and its ability to keep people connected and to provide crucial support to the people who need their services.

In some cases, AI conversations and technology can quite literally save lives by providing a non-judgemental outlet for connection.

The need for the right mental health support has never been more recognised, but people in need of help have to be able to access those services in ways that suit them, at the time they need it.

The use of AI chatbots can help to reduce queue times by providing intelligent self-service to straightforward queries and freeing up critical human agent time for those that need it most.

Accessibility is key – we must give people the tools to reach out conveniently, whenever they need support.

We know from experience that many people prefer to communicate using a message format, particularly those that have grown up in a digital age.

People need to talk more – that message is clearer than ever – but unless they’re able to do so using channels that they feel comfortable with and deem to be discreet, we can’t expect to see real change.

The future for AI as a mental health support tool is bright, and I’m glad that we can be part of the solution.

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  1. Pingback: Alder Hey Children's Hospital launches ‘one-stop shop’ for mental health

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