Plans to offer AI therapy chat on WhatsApp for easier access
BENGALERU, India, October 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Wysa, the world’s first AI-powered digital companion for behavioral health, today announces plans for a Hindi-language mental health app, which will also be accessible via WhatsApp. LAW, a non-profit philanthropy platform, supports the initiative and is looking for a co-funding partner to accelerate development. The pilot is expected to start in early 2023.
Said neetha joyDirector – Health at ACT, “This is a first-of-its-kind effort for us, to partner with an established player to make a proven solution accessible to millions of people. With 14% of our population suffering from mental health conditions and the pandemic exacerbating lack of access to quality healthcare, we need innovative solutions to fill this chasm as there are not enough trained healthcare providers to meet this latent demand.”
The first iteration of the Hindi app will guide users through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercises via SMS with a mobile phone-based chatbot, to help users manage depression and anxiety. The app will guide users with moderate to severe symptoms to a clinical program and wellness tools for others.
wysa is popular with employers and healthcare providers due to its scalability and low cost. As an AI-powered app, Wysa overcomes issues of stigma and privacy that often prevent people from seeking help for their mental health. Wysa’s English-language mental health app has served approximately 528,000 people in Indiaprimarily through large multinational employers and direct-to-consumer downloads.
Despite its popularity, the lack of Hindi language support remains a barrier to reaching various socio-economic and demographic groups. Offering a Hindi app aims to reduce this barrier to access, as much of the country speaks Hindi, and it provides a proven and tangible mechanism to increase communication and access for the vast majority. communities in India.
In addition to overcoming the language barrier, making Wysa’s AI therapy chatbot available via WhatsApp aims to appeal to people who prefer to avoid downloading new apps. There are 487 million WhatsApp users in India, making it the best messaging app in the country. WhatsApp is not only ubiquitous, but also guarantees high user engagement, as a large part of the population depends on it for regular communication, helping therapeutic dialogue to become a part of daily life.
“In our ambition to help 50 million users by 2025, we must overcome literacy and language barriers to create access to mental health support for all. We have shown that therapy via Wysa appeals to those who don’t want to come forward to talk about their mental health issues We have a long way to go in overcoming mental health stigma in Indiabut with this Hindi version of our universally popular app, delivered via WhatsApp, it’s a great place to start,” said Jo AggarwalCEO and co-founder of Wysa.
“Ludwig Wittgenstein said, ‘The limits of my language online mean the limits of my world.’ By providing mental health support in Hindi, one of the most used languages in Indiathrough WhatsApp, a platform most Indians also have access to, even in rural areas, we are bridging the digital divide, bringing us closer to our goal of providing scalable, equitable and accessible emotional support,” added Smriti JoshiChief Psychologist at Wysa.
“A large part of the population of India speaks mostly in Hindi, which poses a huge language barrier to accessing mental health support in addition to stigma. Wysa in Hindi has the ability to reach not only metropolitan cities, but also tier 2 and 3 cities where mental health issues are higher and less talked about. With the simplicity of this app and science-based techniques like CBT, it is extremely beneficial for Hindi speakers to get guidance in their native language. In my many years of working in the mental health field, I have never seen such an initiative and I am sure it will benefit many people,” said dr. Rom KumarClinical Psychologist and Senior Consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.
India mental health facts
- 14% of the population of India he is believed to suffer from mental illness
- $1 trillion lost due to mental health issues in India between 2012 and 2030
- >70% of the general public in India associate mental health with ‘stigma’, study finds
- Approximately 0.75 psychiatrists are available per 100,000 inhabitants
- There are approximately 0.07 available psychologists/social workers per 100,000 population in India compared to more than 30 in the United States
(Source Deloitte report “Life Sciences in Healthcare”)
Wysa is a global leader in AI-powered mental health support, available directly to individuals, through healthcare providers and employer benefit programs. Wysa supports users with an “emotionally intelligent” conversational agent. The bot uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT), meditation, breathing and mindfulness exercises, and micro-actions to help users develop mental resilience skills. For employers, Wysa offers a workplace solution that meets all mental health needs. Wysa has facilitated over 400 million conversations in 65 countries around the world. Wysa works with 20 corporate partners and 7 million employees globally, with partners including Aetna International, NHS, L’Oreal, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, UK NHS and Department of Health of Singapore.
ACT is a non-profit philanthropy platform born in 2020 in response to the COVID crisis. It is based on the principle that collective action has the power to have a large-scale social impact. ACT aims to catalyze social change through action and collaboration at all levels, including startup founders, donors, NGOs, expert advisors, government stakeholders as well as the general public. Grants are awarded as seed capital to incubate and accelerate innovations that have demonstrated the ability to address identified gaps in large-scale social needs – in education, healthcare, climate action and gender inclusion.