Artificial Intelligence Therapists May be the Future of Mental Health Care

Many of us have tabletop virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Home and find them helpful for accomplishing tasks such as playing music and making shopping lists. While these devices act as a basic form of artificial intelligence (AI), AI is evolving and could soon become a part of your life in a more significant way.

Artificial Intelligence

Mental health may be part of the future of AI. AI is based on machine-learning algorithms, and if forward-thinking doctors and investors have their way, it could be a part of mental health therapy. One day your therapist could be a virtual human capable of listening and counseling. Some believe that AI tools will help mental health providers optimize patient care. For instance, if you need psychiatric medication, AI can help find the right one based on your biology and other factors and eliminate the frustrating trial and error that comes with medication.

AI algorithms can also determine whether, for example, someone is likely to attempt suicide. They can use information such as someone’s age, gender, responses to questions, and other factors to make this determination. Facebook currently uses AI to flag posts that suggest suicidal ideas or self-harm.

Cost Saving Measures

Currently, mental health treatment is expensive, and caring for patients with precision is the key to cost-effective and helpful care. Current therapy and treatment methods often can’t pinpoint the unique needs of every patient. Doing so often requires extensive therapy, which costs money and time that people may not be willing to forgo. With AI therapy, there is the potential to be faster and cheaper, and therefore more effective. These factors can result in more patients seeking treatment.

AI also appeals to cost-conscious health insurers and employers. Currently, a startup company called Lyra Health uses data to diagnose mental health conditions and to match patients up with providers. In addition, many large companies offer their employees the services of Spring Health, which uses predictive models to detect mental states and recommends appropriate treatment. People can also use cell phone-based “chatbots” to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy. The chatbots simulate human conversation through voice and text and have been found to reduce depressive episodes in users.

Reshaping Mental Health Care

The use of AI in mental health therapy will change the face of mental health care. One out of every five adults in the United States experiences a mental illness. Less than half of those individuals receive treatment. AI would make treatment more accessible, and there is evidence that people may be more likely to rely on AI treatment. Many rural counties that have no access to mental health care could now have various treatment options available through AI. AI-based tools could also help destigmatize mental health care, which, coupled with cost savings, would make more people willing to use the treatment.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.

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