Dorset Healthcare University to Offer Mental Health Support Using AI Therapy Chatbot

Published on: 05 April 2022
by KnowESG

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust is to launch an AI-powered therapy chatbot to provide the patients with the mental support they need before, during and after NHS-prescribed talking therapies.

Wysa will soon be inducted into the trust's services, which will help patients get immediate access to its 24/7 interactive mental health support once a patient is on the waiting list for an NHS therapist.

The immediate support offered by Wysa enables the patients to understand and manage their symptoms. It means the patients can easily prevent their mental health from going down while they wait for their therapist appointment.

Joel Hooper, IAPT business manager at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We want to tap into people’s personal preferences for communicating to make self-referrals easier. We hope that by making self-help more interactive that we can prevent patients from deteriorating while they wait, perhaps even improving their symptoms."

“Wysa will help patients learn the basic skills needed for effective therapy, so they can then build on that foundation in their therapy sessions. It’s a better way of ensuring patients are continually engaging with their therapy and taking ownership of their recovery.”

The patients have to go through an e-triage experience and an interactive version of the questionnaire to access NHS talking therapies. They will then receive guidance from the AI chatbot through interactive self-care exercises in the NHS-approved self-care library of evidence-based intervention exercises.

Wysa will regularly monitor the progress of the users through ongoing triage questions. The service will provide the users with self-help exercises, handle emergencies, and manage clinical risk.

The therapy session is available to patients for up to a year after discharge to foil relapse. Besides this, Step2Wellbeing, a free of cost mental health service provided to adults, will arrange appointments for patients through Wysa, monitor progress and prescribe homework from Wysa's library.

Wysa managing director Ross O’Brien, added: “Wysa will create a digital front door that will make it easier for patients in Dorset and Southampton to access the vital mental health support they need when they need it. What we are trying to do is bridge the gap between patients asking to access care and receiving treatment.”

There are trial plans for the service at the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.