I’ve been designing mobile apps in the mental health/wellness space since 2011. There has been serious inroads in solving problems such as diagnosis/screening, tracking, and motivation to change behavior in mobile apps.
Now in 2023, we sit on the precipice of a whole new wave of innovation based on AI. Honestly it’s more of a Tsunami.
Already we are seeing mobile apps being augmented with AI to help further meet the goals of improving mental health and wellness.
Here is a quick list of ways that Ai might make significant positive contributions to the design of mobile mental health/wellness interventions.
One of the key ways AI can enhance apps is by personalizing the user experience. AI’s ability to adapt and learn from individual user interactions allows it to offer a tailored experience, thereby addressing sensitive topics more delicately. Importantly, this personalization also serves to empower marginalized communities, fostering feelings of inclusion so the user feels seen and heard in the context of the ways they self-identify.
An integral part of AI’s toolbox in mental health apps is the use of chatbots. These generative AI programs can simulate human conversation, offering users the ability to engage in therapies like CBT and mindfulness in a flexible, affordable, and confidential manner, evolving to suit the individual’s changing needs, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of the intervention.
What first generation apps did for tracking, AI apps will take to teh next level. By analyzing user data and feedback, AI can provide quantitative insights back to the users, and to their invited mental health professionals. This AI supported feedback and analysis loop has the potential to improve the effectiveness of therapies in real time.
While the impacts of AI integration into mental health/wellness app largely remains to be seen, these are some potential areas in which I predict it will begin to make inroads.
I feel compelled to acknowledge that there are significant ethical and practical concerns around: data privacy, security, the risk of over-reliance on AI at the expense of human intervention, potential biases in generative AI, and the challenge of ensuring AI solutions are culturally sensitive and inclusive. With this in mind, it’s useful to continue to think of AI augmented mental health/wellness apps as just one piece in the larger system of mental healthcare.
As we all continue to navigate the promise and the perils of AI in mental health/wellness intervention, we know one thing for sure, change is coming.