Why AI-powered startups are poised to disrupt mental health care

Source: evrmore.io

To learn more about the Symbl for Startups program and how startups are using conversation AI to disrupt industries, reach out to kira.hunter@symbl.ai or apply for entry into the program here.

What does conversation AI have to do with regulating our emotions and overall wellbeing? A good deal, according to big players in the mental health space and novel startups that are training algorithms to boost digital wellness among users.

A 2020 paper out of Cambridge University highlights AI’s objectivity in terms of audio and visual analyses of patients, which can lead to more accurate diagnoses of mental illnesses at an earlier stage. Additionally, the research notes that AI can be merged with sensors and smartphone apps to help mental health professionals monitor current or prospective patients for adverse behavior — and even their medication usage.

All of this could serve to reduce the workload associated with compiling the unique history of each patient and increase the amount of time clinicians spend interacting with them face-to-face — what some would argue is the most important part of the job. Natural Language Processing (NLP), a key element of conversation AI, is especially useful for the kind of summarization that would give healthcare professionals the ability to jump right into a case with all of the relevant facts on hand.

That being said, TechStream reports that while algorithm-based mental health solutions are forecasted to become a $37 billion industry by 2026, the field is still in its infancy. “Virtual therapists” such as Ellie, an avatar developed by the University of Southern California, haven’t quite landed on a solution for quantifying something so fluid and personal as emotions. This is in part because there is no consensus among scientists on the physiological signal combinations that are associated with the wide range of emotional experiences available to us as humans.

But this and other shortcomings haven’t stopped big players from betting on conversation AI’s success across verticals associated with mental health care. Kaiser Permanente began implementing automated and personalized mobile conversations as a means to drive specific behavioral changes as early as 2018. An article published by the company in 2020 reveals that patients are more likely to use digital self care solutions if they are referred by a primary clinician, and in turn those primary clinicians are able to track patients’ progress through AI-driven apps in between sessions.

Another overview of AI’s potential role across mental health verticals out of Current Psychiatry Reports determines that as this technology is refined and improved it will become possible to automatically personalize treatments based on each patient’s unique psychology and history.

Mainstream healthcare is understandably wary of these kinds of advances, which is why startups — including Symbl for Startups’ own evrmore — are working collectively to challenge the industry’s innate stigma against the ability of artificial intelligence to foster mental health and wellness, as well as flag professionals when a patient is on the wrong track.

evrmore uses Symbl.ai’s API platform to expand access to digital mental and behavioral health support with a trainable algorithm; it partners with both learning institutions and mental health practices to offer a more desirable digital care delivery for younger generations that are growing up with access to everything the internet has to offer — for better and for worse.

The company’s AI framework tackles ethical issues and user privacy up front by operating in line with six key principles: inclusive wellbeing; humanistic design and impact; self-directed socialization; transparency and explainability; safety and security; and a caring ecosystem with ethically aligned governance. When it makes sense, users are paired with interest-based mentors and coaches to assist on their personal trajectory.

evrmore’s “wellbeing GPS” couples machine learning with proven frameworks in psychological health and learning sciences to help users build core skills across eight dimensions with the ultimate aim of helping youth live a rewarding life driven by personal mastery.

Because it combines emotion AI and game dynamics, evrmore’s platform and solutions are well suited for students in the throes of social, psychological and developmental complexities. Regular use of the platform enriches adaptive life skills such as interpersonal effectiveness, emotion reframing and distress tolerance while fostering a healthier relationship with technology.

If self-knowledge in the age of over-information leads to better health and learning outcomes, then evrmore and its emerging mindtech peers are perfectly positioned to attack the mental health crisis from the inside out. There’s no doubt that conversation- and voice-based AI will play a huge role in bringing about a much-needed mental health revolution where everyone’s personal narrative is heard, understood and acts as a catalyst to achieve mental health parity.

Therapists and clinicians have the opportunity to participate in a limited-time offer to use evrmore in a therapeutic setting as an adjunct digital intervention tool.

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