Flow is a new chatbot therapist built to combat depression, and it’s now rolling out across the UK. Built by psychologists and machine learning experts, Flow talks to users daily and offers meditative techniques, mood tracking, self-help guides, and more to help reverse the cycle of depression.
We’ve seen a growing number of chatbots enter the public domain with the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Some have been more successful than others – looking at you Microsoft. But if there’s one thing that these programs can offer, it’s lending an ear and a little guidance from the experts to those in need of a pick-me-up.
The cycle of depression is something that affects a great number of us across the globe, and can touch all walks of life. With such a wide remit, it’s one area that modern computer science has taken an interest in – a problem that may not always be solvable by computers and artificial intelligence but that these programs might be able to offer some support in dealing with. AI has also been given the task of expanding and accelerating drug discovery – which it has already found some success.
The chatbot offers advice on sleeping, eating well, and helpful meditation to keep your brain happy and healthy. It also offers a self-help guides and daily conversations, all aimed at helping those facing depression.
“Accessibility and early intervention in depression is crucial,” Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and CEO of Flow, says. “The ‘always-on’ source of therapy provided by Flow ensures people get the help they need as quickly as possible. Flow can provide anonymity without the fear of being judged by others. This is great as some people feel anxious when it comes to talking about their depression to another human.”
Flow is developed by Flow Neuroscience, based in Malmo, Sweden. The company also produces the Flow brain simulation headset, an at-home treatment for depression that sounds rather daunting. The company is currently in talks with the NHS regarding getting this headset, which can be used alongside the Flow chatbot, on prescription in the UK – so maybe wait and see if that gets the nod from the UK’s finest medical professionals before trying it out for yourself at home.
The Flow chatbot is available today on iOS, and an Android version is set to launch in October.
But Flow isn’t the first of its kind, and back at the dawn of modern computing, psychotherapists were putting together conversational programs capable of ‘listening’ to user’s input. While these weren’t really acknowledging anything you said, modern AI has the ability to drastically improve bots’ interaction and understanding, powered by AI accelerators from the biggest names in tech.
If you are suffering with depression, please seek professional medical care, helplines, and talk to those close to you. There’s always someone happy to listen, and you can reverse the cycle of depression.