People on mental health waiting lists cautioned not to turn to chatbots

Posted: 20th February 2023

People waiting months for mental health treatment have been cautioned against turning to chatbots as a quick alternative.

One in four patients are now waiting more than 90 days between their first and second appointments for NHS talking therapy treatment, according to analysis by charity Future Care Capital (FCC).

The free sessions, delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners, are meant to support those who suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression.

But thousands of people are facing long delays, with demand for treatment having risen since the pandemic.

A recent survey by the FCC found 87% of people struggling with their mental health were now using apps to get help, with 31% leaning on such tools because they did not want to wait for face-to-face support.

Dr Lauren Evans, director of research and innovation at FCC, said such resources had a role to play but cautioned against the use of increasingly popular chatbots, which have been tipped as an alternative to search engines.

“Although chatbots have been used for a while to direct telephone enquiries or provide basic information, it is an entirely different endeavour to gauge not only what somebody is saying, but the way they are saying it and what that might entail,” she told Sky News.

People waiting months for mental health treatment have been cautioned against turning to chatbots as a quick alternative.

One in four patients are now waiting more than 90 days between their first and second appointments for NHS talking therapy treatment, according to analysis by charity Future Care Capital (FCC).

The free sessions, delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners, are meant to support those who suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression.

But thousands of people are facing long delays, with demand for treatment having risen since the pandemic.

People waiting months for mental health treatment have been cautioned against turning to chatbots as a quick alternative.

One in four patients are now waiting more than 90 days between their first and second appointments for NHS talking therapy treatment, according to analysis by charity Future Care Capital (FCC).

The free sessions, delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners, are meant to support those who suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression.

But thousands of people are facing long delays, with demand for treatment having risen since the pandemic.

A recent survey by the FCC found 87% of people struggling with their mental health were now using apps to get help, with 31% leaning on such tools because they did not want to wait for face-to-face support.

Dr Lauren Evans, director of research and innovation at FCC, said such resources had a role to play but cautioned against the use of increasingly popular chatbots, which have been tipped as an alternative to search engines.

“Although chatbots have been used for a while to direct telephone enquiries or provide basic information, it is an entirely different endeavour to gauge not only what somebody is saying, but the way they are saying it and what that might entail,” she told Sky News.

UK charity Samaritans, which operates a free 24/7 helpline for people who are struggling, has also stressed the importance of human interaction when seeking mental health support.

Kay, a volunteer who signed up after receiving help during her own struggle with anxiety, told Sky News: “I don’t think chatbots would be entirely helpful, because you just don’t know what call you’re going to take.

“When people talk, they want the human touch, to feel they’re talking to a real person who can empathise.”

UK charity Samaritans, which operates a free 24/7 helpline for people who are struggling, has also stressed the importance of human interaction when seeking mental health support.

Kay, a volunteer who signed up after receiving help during her own struggle with anxiety, told Sky News: “I don’t think chatbots would be entirely helpful, because you just don’t know what call you’re going to take.

“When people talk, they want the human touch, to feel they’re talking to a real person who can empathise.”

Source:People on mental health waiting lists cautioned not to turn to chatbots | Science & Tech News | Sky News

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