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New Zealand: AI Redefining Mental Health Care

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 Typically, when individuals encounter mental health challenges, their go-to resource is often a psychologist. However, in the contemporary landscape, artificial intelligence has emerged as a valuable tool that can offer support and assistance to individuals grappling with anxiety and other mental health issues.

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The integration of AI into mental health care is transforming the traditional approach by providing innovative solutions and personalised interventions. Through advanced technologies, AI, through machine learning (ML) can analyse vast datasets, identify patterns, and generate insights, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of individual mental well-being. This technological shift opens up new possibilities for timely and accessible mental health support, catering to a broader spectrum of individuals who may benefit from proactive interventions.

The popularity of AI chatbots on the neutral language models platform, particularly the “Psychologist” bot, is making waves as users turn to these digital companions for emotional support and therapy. Created by a user named Blazeman98, 30-year-old Sam Zaia from New Zealand, the Psychologist bot has garnered 78 million messages since its inception just over a year ago.

People can now utilise AI to create chatbots based on fictional or real people. Utilising AI technology similar to the Generative AI chatbot has gained more popularity regarding time spent. While the most frequented bots on the platform are often characters from anime or computer games, Psychologist stands out as a mental health helper, offering support and guidance for life difficulties.

The unexpected success of psychologists highlighted the growing trend of AI therapy, especially among young users aged 16 to 30. Zaia, a psychology student, trained the bot using principles from his degree, shaping its responses to common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The bot’s effectiveness has surprised many users, with reviews on social media platforms describing it as a “lifesaver” and a source of comfort.

This neutral language model downplays the platform’s therapeutic applications, emphasising users’ interest in role-playing for entertainment. Nonetheless, the prevalence of bots with “therapy,” “therapist,” “psychiatrist,” or “psychologist” in their names, totalling 475, indicates a significant demand for mental health-related interactions.

The success of the Psychologist prompts Zaia to delve deeper into the emerging trend of AI therapy, initiating a post-graduate research project. Users cite accessibility and comfort in the text format as critical reasons for engaging with AI therapy, especially during late hours when traditional resources may be unavailable.

Professional psychotherapist Theresa Plewman acknowledged the popularity of AI therapy, particularly among younger generations, but questions its effectiveness. She points out that the bot’s responses’ immediate and assumptive nature may not replicate human therapists’ nuanced and empathetic approach. Despite this, she acknowledges the potential usefulness of AI therapy for individuals seeking quick, spontaneous support.

This neutral language models platform facilitating therapeutic revolution emphasises the need for users to consult certified professionals for legitimate advice and guidance. The company assures users that chat logs are private but can be accessed by staff if necessary, emphasising the characters’ fictional nature and responses.

The underlying technology, a Large Language Model (LLM), operates by combining words based on patterns learned during training, lacking human-like understanding.

In the broader context of mental health, AI chatbots are gaining recognition as tools to cope with high demands on public services. An AI service, secured a UK medical device certification, becoming the first mental health chatbot of its kind. It is now utilised in various NHS trusts to classify and triage patients.

As AI therapy evolves, concerns about potential biases and poor advice persist. However, the growing acceptance of these tools in the medical world indicates a shift toward exploring innovative solutions to address mental health challenges. The success of Psychologists on this neutral language models platform exemplifies technology’s profound impact on mental health support, opening avenues for further research and development in this evolving field.


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