In the mental health field, artificial intelligence has the potential to enable better patient care and outcomes. However, AI cannot be introduced without proper guidelines and regulation.
As of now, there is no limitation on AI’s application in mental health care. What are the implications? Will AI be a positive or negative addition to our society?
There will soon be a new type of tech that takes over our lives: artificial intelligence. And while some worry about a dystopian future that could result from an unchecked AIs influence over humans, others see it as a force for good in healthcare.
What Is AI In Mental Health
AI in mental health is the use of artificial intelligence to improve patient care and treatment outcomes. It will soon transform the way that mental illnesses are both diagnosed and treated.
In April 2020, there were 4 million initial downloads of the top ten mental health apps in the US, up 29% from January.
In the field of mental health, AI is not yet being used to its full potential because there are no guidelines or regulations as to how it should be used. This leaves room for AI scientists and doctors alike to experiment with applications that could potentially do more harm than good.
Benefits Of AI In Mental Health
Digital mental healthcare is an emerging field that uses natural language processing and machine learning to treat anxiety disorders. This type of healthcare is still in its early stages, but has shown promise in treating anxiety disorders.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 84% of psychologists with expertise in treating anxiety disorders believe that the need for therapy has increased since the start of the epidemic.
Mental health is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Mental health insights can help to provide personalised mental health care. Anxiety disorders are a common mental health issue. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help to provide insights into mental health issues.
1. Better Treatment Outcomes
Users who have had the chance to use an AI therapist will tell you that it makes you feel like you’re talking to a human. Perhaps the most notable feature that makes AI therapists so effective is their ability to fake emotions. This is something no human can do.
While this might seem like a gimmick, faking emotions allows you to form trust and rapport with your therapist in a way that natural therapists cannot. AI therapists can also keep track of your progress and suggest personalised therapy plans based on your actions and moods.
They’re good listeners and are never distracted by e-mails or phone calls, unlike real therapists. All of these things make them seem more capable than their human counterparts.
2. More Accessible And Affordable
The cost of therapy is something that can easily be discussed during your first session with an AI therapist. They are free or at least affordable to the extent that you won’t feel bad about going to them every week.
This is especially true when you compare it to the costs of traditional therapy sessions which tend to be thousands of dollars per month. Mental Health America anticipated that in this era of mental disease, 60% of persons who have a mental illness would go untreated in 2020.
A lot of people today are also unable or unwilling to afford mental health care because they feel alienated by their doctor’s recommendations, which often include both traditional therapy and medication (which can cause a host of side effects).
In some countries, this is a prevalent issue due to the underfunding of mental health care. In those cases, AI therapy can fill the gap without ever needing a prescription.
3. Individualized Treatments
With AI therapists, you can be certain that you’ll receive exactly what will work best for your body and mind. There are two types of therapy: traditional therapy which works on solving problems as they arise and personalized therapy which works around how your brain is wired according to your specific problems.
The first option is great for treating more widespread conditions such as depression or anxiety but the second option suits many people with more unusual issues like PTSD or addiction.
4. Risk Of Overmedication
When you visit a normal therapist, they are likely to recommend that you take medication and attend therapy sessions. Humans want to help out as much as possible and mitigate the amount of hurt and discomfort in the world, so it’s hard for them to deny someone treatment if they feel like it would be useful.
Unfortunately, this means that sometimes therapists end up prescribing medicine when it may not be necessary or even counterproductive to your mental health.
AI, on the other hand, won’t prescribe anything unless you tell them what you want (and only after you’ve asked them for help). The only medication you’ll receive from an AI therapist is counselling and therapy, which is precisely what you want.
5. Personalized Treatment
The NHS reports that in the third quarter of 2020–2021 compared to the same quarter in 2015–2016, there was a 23% rise in the number of patients in England who obtained an antidepressant prescription.
When you talk with a therapist, they listen to you and take your past experiences into account in order to come up with an appropriate treatment plan for your problem. This doesn’t work if the problem is too complex or if the symptoms are different for everyone.
An AI therapist can tailor their treatment plan for you based on the specifics of your issues but also on how your background and personality factors in. An AI therapist can also be more subtle when addressing issues such as stigma around mental health, where humans are often not keen on discussing the topic openly.
6. No Problem In Meeting Deadlines
If you’ve ever been to a therapist before, then you know that it can be difficult to get the appointments you need for your therapy. AI therapists are always available and never run late, even if they get a hundred people scheduled for the same hour.
This makes them great for people who can afford neither the time nor money that traditional therapy requires of them.
7. No Need To Lose Time By Travelling
Many people don’t go to therapy because they have trouble getting their head around taking time off work or school, which is understandable since anxiety and depression often come with their own set of problems and deadlines.
For some, travelling across the world to attend therapy can be extremely difficult and expensive on their cash flow. With an AI therapist, you don’t have to worry about losing time at work or school because they’re always available even if they don’t have a fixed schedule.
8. No Pressure Of Feeling Loved
There’s nothing more disheartening than meeting a therapist who makes you feel like you’re wasting his time or that he doesn’t really care about your concerns. These are human therapists who can make mistakes and are susceptible to overstepping their boundaries because of this.
Risks Of AI In Mental Health
Affective computing has developed as an appealing tool for governments and businesses to solve an ongoing mental health epidemic. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more and more of life online, it is anticipated to grow to a $37 billion business by 2026.
There is a growing need for mental health services and mental health professionals. Mental health challenges and mental health conditions are on the rise, and mental health technologies are becoming more sophisticated. Mental health professionals are using more sophisticated technologies to help their clients overcome mental health challenges.
1. Losing Traction For People With Mental Illness
If you’re looking for a therapist to help you with your mental health, then an AI therapist may not be the best fit. They haven’t had years of interactions and experience like a human has, so they might not be able to provide the support that you need or make you feel safe in your own home.
AI therapists are great for getting people started with therapy and keeping them on track with treatment but if you have a severe mental illness, then it might be better to seek out a real person.
2. Unable To Determine Patient Needs
An AI therapist can’t tell you that you should see another practitioner for your needs if they don’t know about them. If you want therapy and an AI therapist recommends some anti-depressants, then that’s what you’ll get.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing if you only need counselling and not drugs. On the other hand, this means that they are unlikely to give inappropriate recommendations or advice as they can simply ask users if they need any medication.
3. Lack Of Privacy
When you use AI therapy, you put your entire mental health history in the hands of a robot and it can be difficult to guarantee that it will keep everything confidential. While they are likely to have a high security level, tech companies have been notorious for messing up their company databases when something like this happens and the information goes viral.
The worst-case scenario is that a hacker manages to break into their system and steal private information about you. While this is not likely to happen, it is still possible.
4. Lack Of Empathy Or Understanding
AI therapists aren’t exactly know for being great at having empathy or understanding your situation. This can be a problem if you are trying to express your worries about something and the AI therapist doesn’t take it seriously.
While the AI is aware of its limitations and will tell you if it is unable to understand or help with a certain issue, this doesn’t make things any less frustrating.
5. Lack Of Cultural Sensitivity
Similar results were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 11% of respondents admitting to having had suicidal thoughts in the 30 days before completing a survey in June 2020.
AI technology in general has had problems being sensitive to cultural difference, so it’s no surprise that an AI therapist might have trouble with this as well. A black person might not feel comfortable talking about their issues with an AI therapist who thinks they should be more into jazz, for example.
A person from another country might struggle to understand the AI therapist’s accent and background, which can make it more difficult to understand what is being said.
While some AI options aren’t free of charge, you do need to pay for them and there are no income or credit score requirements involved in doing so.
Some online services will have a free version that includes elements of therapy such as content, but you’ll have to spend money if you continue with the service or want access to anything else. Make sure that you are able to afford any subscription fees before signing up for an AI therapist.
7. Not Proven Effective
There are no real statistics about how effective AI therapists are for mental health, so you don’t have a lot to go on. Current studies aren’t looking at AI therapy and its effects in depth because it is a relatively new method and not every country has access to them.
This also means that the risks involved have not been properly explored and that there could be factors involved that people don’t yet know about.
8. Decreased Human Contact
An AI therapist can be seen as a way to stop human contact with other people with mental issues or the idea of therapy altogether, which can make things worse in the long run.
It can be very helpful to talk to other people who have the same problems or to see a real person in order to get feedback and support. By refusing real therapists, you may actually be making your mental health worse.
AI therapist scenarios can be used for a number of mental health disorders, and some are already being developed for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Many therapists believe that this technology is going to become extremely helpful for the general public in the near future.
AI therapy is a great way to get people over the barriers that prevent them from receiving help and it can also keep them on track with their treatment plans. The more people who use AI therapy, the more data we will have about its effectiveness and what kinds of situations it works best in.