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The Process of Designing a Chatbot to Link Youth to Mental Health Resources

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Tampa

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Dr. Jerome T. Galea

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The Process of Designing a Chatbot to Link Youth to Mental Health Resources

Authors: Kierra Cydrus, Shelton Gilyard Jr., Gabriella Sanabria, Dr. Kristin Kosyluk, Dr. Jerome Galea

Intro/Background: Conversation agents or "Chatbots" are used on various websites, such as banking and customer service portals, to help users navigate information and services. This study aims to create a chatbot to help link youth attending a sexual health clinic to mental health resources. Methods: We convened a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) comprised of 7 youth aged 16-24 years and, from June-September 2021, met three times to: 1. Identify the features and resources desirable in a mental health chatbot navigator; and 2. Interact with early versions of the chatbot, which was responsive to their preferences. After the second and third YAB meetings, the chatbot was further developed for a version ready for pilot testing among youth who were not part of the YAB. Next, beginning in December 2021-present, we began recruiting youth from the collaborating sexual health clinic to try the chatbot and provide feedback on their experience. To date, we have recruited 11/20 participants. Results: The YAB provided an initial set of preferences for the chatbot, which included gender-neutral language, a personalized feel and self-help exercises (e.g., a breathing exercise to calm anxiety). Initial data indicate a preference for a chatbot that does not sound too robotic or clinical and free from excessive text. Additionally, there is a preference for the chatbot to be simple and efficient to use. Conclusion: A chatbot connecting youth with mental health resources appears feasible and acceptable; however, future development responsive to youth's preferences tested in larger and more diverse samples is needed to assure acceptability.

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The Process of Designing a Chatbot to Link Youth to Mental Health Resources

The Process of Designing a Chatbot to Link Youth to Mental Health Resources

Authors: Kierra Cydrus, Shelton Gilyard Jr., Gabriella Sanabria, Dr. Kristin Kosyluk, Dr. Jerome Galea

Intro/Background: Conversation agents or "Chatbots" are used on various websites, such as banking and customer service portals, to help users navigate information and services. This study aims to create a chatbot to help link youth attending a sexual health clinic to mental health resources. Methods: We convened a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) comprised of 7 youth aged 16-24 years and, from June-September 2021, met three times to: 1. Identify the features and resources desirable in a mental health chatbot navigator; and 2. Interact with early versions of the chatbot, which was responsive to their preferences. After the second and third YAB meetings, the chatbot was further developed for a version ready for pilot testing among youth who were not part of the YAB. Next, beginning in December 2021-present, we began recruiting youth from the collaborating sexual health clinic to try the chatbot and provide feedback on their experience. To date, we have recruited 11/20 participants. Results: The YAB provided an initial set of preferences for the chatbot, which included gender-neutral language, a personalized feel and self-help exercises (e.g., a breathing exercise to calm anxiety). Initial data indicate a preference for a chatbot that does not sound too robotic or clinical and free from excessive text. Additionally, there is a preference for the chatbot to be simple and efficient to use. Conclusion: A chatbot connecting youth with mental health resources appears feasible and acceptable; however, future development responsive to youth's preferences tested in larger and more diverse samples is needed to assure acceptability.