‘Siri With Empathy’: The Intelligent App That’s Changing Mental Health Care


Tim Chen

At some stage in their life, one in four people around the world will be affected by a form of mental health condition; from anxiety to bipolar disorder to depression, disorders manifest in myriad forms. It carries an estimated global economic cost of over USD $2 trillion a year, as well as presenting some of the most formidable challenges to promoting well-being in healthcare systems across the world.

One such challenge is to provide help to those who need it but lack it. Although effective and affordable treatments are available for most conditions – and in some instances preventable given timely interventions – approximately two-thirds of those affected will never seek help for their psychological ailments. Moreover, the roots of mental health issues can grow from a young age; 50% of instances of disorders occur by 14 years old, and 75% by 24 years old.

Ostensibly, there are many reasons for this- inadequate institutions, neglect, social stigma or simple misinformation- for instance. People may not have access to care; indeed, they may not want or even know that they need help. But the issue is clear: coverage needs to be widened to include those without it.

This is exactly what Mindbin Technologies, a tech startup, is trying to do. With mental health in mind, they are building an intelligent virtual assistant, Booost, where users can chat with in-app avatars which track and assess mental wellbeing.

Emphasising the mental health needs of the young, Mindbin is trying to drive youth engagement by incorporating gaming elements into the app. An avatar is created when the user registers, who then takes care of the avatar. 

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