Mental health support made accessible using AI-powered chat – Microsoft Accessibility Blog – Microsoft

The duration of untreated illness and psychosis sometimes last years. Nguyen hopes the platform can fill the gap between realizing that care is needed and actually seeking care.  

“The impact that this texting program could have on the population at large is incalculable,” says an anonymous user of the program. “I know I would benefit from it and I am sure that thousands of others would, too. A lot of young adults and teenagers suffer from mental health issues because, well, frankly, the world sucks, and anything that is well-researched and proven to be beneficial, things such as this texting program will definitely impact my peers for the better.” 

The decision to get care can be overwhelming. Finding a provider that you relate with can be difficult. 

“It’s hard to find a provider period, right? Let alone someone you trust,” Theresa said. 

When signing up for the texting platform, users will be able to agree to a privacy policy and all identifiable information is encrypted to prevent tampering. No identifiable information will be saved so users can trust that their privacy is protected. For those seeking help, it may be their first time sharing personal information about trauma. For others, it could be their first time speaking about navigating a mental illness. The platform intends to provide users with knowledge and skills before their first visit, so they can move forward to more help when they feel comfortable. Theresa calls it setting users up for success.  

The texting platform’s constant presence is reassuring, especially at a time when healthcare providers are facing burn out due to increasing demands for their service. “What’s nice about the asynchronous bot is it’s not going to be burnt out,” Nguyen said. The team is experimenting with crowdsourcing user-generated advice and words of affirmation to provide a community aspect to the platform.  

Interviewees who have tested the platform indicated that the tool helped them to feel validated, experiment with new skills and activities for their mental health, and find commonalities with others. An anonymous user added their thoughts on building a community, “There are so many different people with so many different values and ideas on what solutions we could come up with. And I really enjoyed that, seeing that there were so many people. We’re all different, but at the same time, we’re all facing similar issues. It really helps.” 

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