Published: 05th July 2021
This AI chatbot by Class 11 students will help teens deal with mental stress. Here's how
The AI chatbot provides a platform to teenagers to discuss their mental health issues. We find out more
Therapy usually involves someone listening to you. That's the image we've got from movies and TV shows innumerable. Today, things have changed. An AI chatbot, developed by a group of Delhi school students, can actually give you a major mental health boost using everything from exercise to a Spotify playlist - provided you don't need clinical therapy.
Realising this need for some mental health help during the pandemic, a group of Class 11 students from Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram has developed an AI chatbot that provides a platform to teenagers to discuss their mental health issues, while also giving them non-clinical support to deal with stress and anxiety-like suggesting music playlists, grounding exercises, etc that can help alleviate the stress. These music playlists, exercises, videos have been curated by the students on Spotify, YouTube, and other websites with proper guidance from counsellors to help teenagers stay calm.
This chatbot is available on www.sparkthespirit.in, a portal designed by the students and it monitors the mood of users, helps them express their thoughts and emotions through therapeutic conversations. For individuals who may be open to the human connection, the portal also connects them with people facing similar issues based on the profiling done through the conversation with the chatbot. "On the first page of the website, there will be a bird logo which takes you directly to the chatbot once you click on it. There are certain questions that the chatbot will ask the user. They are all based on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC), which is a brief questionnaire that helps identify and assess changes in emotional and behavioral problems in children. We have gotten these authorised from counsellors, psychologists. As the users go through and answer these questions, an evaluation keeps happening in the backend, and finally, it will provide you with non-clinical support," says Akshat Jain, one of the team members.
The students — Akkshansh Bagga, Akshat, Yash Kataria, Muskaan Chawla, and Aryan Misra — had been working on it for the past 15 months until it was up and running recently. Although the chatbot should not be a replacement for a therapist or other mental health coach, its aim is to create a positive impact on the minds of those who make use of it. "Even before COVID, we have seen that a regular teenager faces a lot of pressure in their everyday lives. After the pandemic, it has only increased. Mental health is also a taboo subject, not many wish to talk about it openly, we wanted to help change that mindset too. Research prior to the pandemic suggested that 14.5 per cent of adolescents in India were found to be suffering from anxiety disorders. Keeping this data in mind, we conducted another basic survey with young adults within our age group during the pandemic. The findings suggested that there was a lack of awareness about being susceptible to anxiety, stress and that mental health-related problems exist at a young age too. This encouraged us to create the chat-bot," adds Aryan, another team member.
Moving forward, the students wish to introduce more features into the chatbot, maybe integrate machine learning to make it more efficient. "We are still exploring these right now, working on improving the prototype," concludes Aryan.