Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next step to revolutionize health facilities. Here’s how it is currently used AI for mental health.
AI may not be more than a support system for now; however, it shows all the signs of making a significant difference in the field.
One of the most important contributions of AI programs could be reducing the stigma regarding mental health and easy access.
Ever since the onset of the pandemic, mental health has taken a downturn and is worsening at an alarming rate. In Europe alone, over 165 million people struggle with some sort of mental disorder.
So what if AI is used to overcome this crisis? And in what ways can this technology be beneficial to us?
To answer this, below are the top five ways in which AI can be applied to revolutionize mental health services.
AI For Mental Health
Here is how we currently utilize AI for mental health:
1. Providing Support At Any Time And Anywhere
Artificial Intelligence can be a great way to ensure help and support 24/7. People will be able to access proper treatment and care not just at any time but also from anywhere.
A survey conducted in 2014 found that nearly 45% of the world’s population doesn’t have easy access to a psychiatrist. Likewise, the majority of this population belongs to countries where only one psychiatrist is available for every 120,000 people.
This clearly shows that many people around the world can neither avail nor afford proper treatment for their mental disorders.
With the help of AI, this can be made possible through useful apps and software. Many tools are already available that you can download for free on your smartphone.
These apps are designed to help patients cope with their symptoms. They contain exercises based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and other experience-based psychological techniques.
In this way, a chatbot could be a lifesaver for a patient who’s struggling in the dead of night. Moreover, some people may prefer to share their struggles with an anonymous chatbot than a human being.
These AI-based methods are undoubtedly new and need more experimentation. However, chatbots and other health-based apps for tracking and boosting mood can provide considerable benefits to people, especially to those with less to no access to proper care.
2. Alerting Of Early Warning Signs
When it comes to mental health, timely intervention is crucial. It’s even more critical if the patient depends on the medication. This is where AI comes into play.
AI devices can act as mediators for human caregivers and patients. They can provide invaluable support in scheduling appointments and formulating checkpoints to flag a downslide before it gets dangerous.
An app on a trial basis monitored a veteran’s phone for 24 hours. The app listened to the user’s voice and analyzed their speech style, changes in tone, and pitch. The user’s phone usage also gave the app many behavioral indicators and pointers. The AI system then processes all this information to detect any noteworthy changes in the user’s mental health.
Another study found that algorithms identified teenagers prone to psychosis with 100% accuracy.
Similarly, IBM developed an AI that studies speech patterns to determine people on the verge of developing psychosis. The Al used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to study the coherence of speech and thoughts of the person.
Language analysis AIs can prove to be a great asset for mental health experts to monitor patients with ongoing treatment. These AIs can alert a doctor when the patient’s condition begins to worsen.
3. Destigmatizing Mental Health Problems
In many countries, mental health is surrounded by a lot of stigma and negativity. As a result, many people don’t seek professional care and hesitate to speak about their situation.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. So stifling it down only worsens the condition, leading to dangerous consequences.
To overcome this fear of stigma and judgment in society, it’s important to make mental health more perceptible and less subjective.
The best way to achieve this goal is to introduce AI in the field. Unlike most humans, AI is perceived as a prejudice-free, non-discriminatory, and non-judgmental system. It’s a neutral companion that solely works with evidence-based data and verified medical practices.
In this way, AI can facilitate and improve mental health exponentially by providing immediate communication, decreasing isolation, and enabling anonymous self-expression.
4. Incorporating Mental And Physical Healthcare Together
How amazing it would be if AI-operated systems could alert doctors that one of their patients is at high risk of developing a mental illness based on their medical history.
This can be a possibility if AI is used to integrate mental health care with physical health care.
According to a recent study, AIs successfully predicted that one of the patients who needed to go to a hospital for self-injury are likely to commit suicide in the future.
Another example is regarding opioid patients. Collected data indicates that 10% of cardiac patients who, after surgery, take opioids for 90 days become dependent on the medication.
AI algorithms can be used to warn doctors about patients who are on the verge of opioid dependence. Such patients can then be referred to therapists who deal with addictions, so patients can learn alternative methods to ease their pain and discomfort.
5. Eliminating Chances Of Human Error
Humans are prone to make mistakes all the time. Sometimes, human therapists and doctors fail to notice subtle signs that a patient exhibits during an appointment.
This is because there is a time slot and healthcare providers are in a rush to cater to the needs of multiple patients at a time.
Mental health experts can use AI tools that detect signs of depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) by examining facial expressions and speech patterns. This information can be used as a backup during meetings.
Here are some AI examples to get a more clear picture:
Founded by Dr. Alison Darcy, a clinical research psychologist, Woebot works like an instant messaging app. The app’s focus is to mimic the open ear of a trained mental health professional.
Woebot studies the user through general conversation. Then it generates questions according to their condition while conversing.
Wysa is another app that works like Woebot. A person can have lengthy conversations with the chatbot whenever and wherever.
It will always be available and respond most neutrally despite what the individual’s thought process is.
ELIZA is a basic NLP app. It was created in 1966 to mimic the response and understanding of a psychotherapist.
It works like Woebot, analyzing the user’s mental health through conversation and approaching the issue by asking appropriate questions.
Al is an incredible technology that can make mental health an accessible facility for everyone around the world. It can eradicate prejudice and negativity surrounding mental health in a society.
People will be able to reach support 24/7 and this may be a lifeline for many isolated individuals.
That doesn’t mean AI can replace human therapists. Artificial Intelligence can’t compete with human intelligence however, the technology can make the health service more reachable, affordable, and responsive.
As you can see, utilizing AI for mental health is the next step in medicine. It’s amazing how technology can improve our lives nowadays.