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Woebot Health - making mental health radically accessible

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by Startacus Admin

woebot screen.

The lowdown on Woebot Health, the innovative AI-based mental health platform and its fab chatbot therapy solution

woebot image.We have written many times about the rise of startups built to help people with mental health (Frankie Health and Thymia are two recent examples) coinciding with the decreasing stigma associated with it. As more and more people talk openly about it, more and more people are encouraged to follow suit, and the true extent of mental health issues is revealed. 

This in turn has opened the door for that rise in startups looking to make life easier for people struggling with mental health, and to help continue to normalise talking about it. Some of these startups are apps to put you in touch with therapists without ever having to leave the house, but sometimes, you may want a little support without having to talk to a real person. This is where a good AI can come in.

Dublin-born and San Francisco-based chatbot therapist developer Woebot Health has built an AI that uses natural language processing to help with its relationship-focused conversations with the user, allowing the user to better develop trust and an emotional bond with the chatbot. In fact, this is what Woebot Health found on that topic:

“Published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), our latest observational study involving 36,070 users found that Woebot, our relational agent for mental health, can establish a therapeutic bond with users — a construction long thought to be unique to the domain of human-to-human interactions.”

woebot appAlthough a chatbot may never be a substitute for real human interaction, it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be good enough to perform the task it is created for: support the user’s mental health on a day-to-day basis; in particular, helping to stave off loneliness by giving you that back and forth interaction. Woebot is not a therapist, but it helps you to work things out on your own, and encourages you to think positively and move out of negative patterns of thinking. It builds an emotional model for you as you interact, helping you to identify those negative patterns in your mood and thinking, and give you tools to break them.

In July, Woebot Health raised a huge $90 million in a Series B round, led by JAZZ Venture Partners and Temasek, and brings their total funding to $114 million. This sizable round comes on the heels of the startup earning the first FDA Breakthrough Device designation for its work in easing the mental distress of postpartum depression.

As always, any tool that helps with mental health issues is something to keep a close eye on and to support, and we look forward to watching the startup and app grow.


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Published on: 5th August 2021

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