Chatbots as companions for mental health concerns

Earkick is a bandana-wearing panda chatbot that aims to provide comfort and coping tips for those dealing with anxiety. Rather than a therapy app, Earkick presents itself as a self-help tool that mimics the responses of an actual therapist. The panda suggests deep breathing exercises and offers support to help alleviate stress and negative thoughts.

Despite its availability around the clock and the absence of traditional therapy stigma, critics argue that there is limited evidence to show long-term effectiveness of chatbots in improving mental health. Some experts advocate for clearer disclaimers and FDA oversight as chatbots become more sophisticated with generative AI technology.

With nearly 60 percent of teen girls reporting feelings of sadness or hopelessness, reaching out to those in need of mental health support can be challenging. Factors such as a shortage of school staff and mental health professionals, as well as the fear of stigma, contribute to the difficulty in accessing help.

Earkick does not want to be labeled as an app or therapy service, but rather as a health companion that measures, tracks, communicates, and aids in improving mental health in real-time. The website emphasizes that Earkick does not provide medical care, diagnosis, or treatment, but rather offers support and guidance.

Earkick has received high ratings in the Apple app store and is downloadable on Android devices. It aims to provide a non-intrusive and accessible form of mental health support for those in need, while emphasizing its role as a companion rather than a substitute for therapy.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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