Therapy Brought to You by Silicon Valley

February 24, 2023

In recent years, AI-based mental health care startups like Youper and Woebot Health, also headquartered in San Francisco, have raised millions of dollars in funding. About 22% of adults have used a mental health chatbot, according to a 2021 survey commissioned by Woebot Health, and 47% of respondents said they would be interested in using the technology. 

According to studies affiliated with Woebot Health, users can establish a bond with bot within three to five days, and young adults users saw a 22% reduction in depression symptoms in two weeks time.

But some, like Jodi Halpern, a psychiatrist and professor of bioethics and medical humanities at UC Berkeley, have concerns. For instance, Halpern worries about the way these products are marketed—especially to a potential audience of young people.

“I think that helping youth have smart diaries and things that can help them is a good thing. But giving them a sense that this is where they get their empathy or their companionship is a manipulative thing,” Halpern said.

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The San Francisco Standard