Mental health services around the world are chronically under resourced – but there are hopes that artificial intelligence might offer a solution.

Tash is standing at a chilly bus stop talking to her therapist. "What's the main issue that has brought you here today?", the therapist asks. Tash says she's feeling anxious. 

"I'm really sorry you're not feeling great," the therapist responds. "I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about this. Can I make a suggestion?" The therapist proposes running through a coping mechanism, the same that they tried last time Tash was feeling this way. She agrees.

It sounds like a normal therapy session, until you learn that Tash's therapist is generated by artificial intelligence, and she's speaking to it via an app on her phone. 

Tash is one of many people struggling with mental health problems, especially because of the pandemic. Covid-19 caused major disruptions to mental health services globally. Yet mental health issues are a prolific part of society, and the number of patients struggling continues to grow. In the US alone, about four in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression between April 2020 and July 2021. In England, there is only one consultant psychiatrist for every 12,600 people.

Services are unable to meet record demand for treatment. In response, a number of apps have emerged around the world, offering therapeutic solutions generated by artificial intelligence. Is this the future of mental health? Watch the video above or on BBC Reel to find out how talking to computer algorithms is helping some mental health patients.

* Video by Ana González and Frederick Bernas. Text by Harriet Constable.



We know the world has to change for humanity to thrive. But what are the most promising solutions that could provide the kind of transformation we need? In a world adjusting to the recent global pandemic, Change Agents examines innovations and technologies that could make our planet a better, healthier place to live.


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