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Survey: Paradigm Shift in Attitudes and Opinions about Mental Health
South Dakota Ag Connection - 10/22/2021

Woebot Health released the results of its proprietary survey, "A Paradigm Shift: Consumer Attitudes Toward Mental Health Technology in 2021." The survey, which was designed to capture Americans' attitudes and beliefs about their mental health, current mental health care habits and views on mental health technology, found that United States adults have favorable views about how technology, including mental health chatbots, can improve their mental health.

Key findings among respondents included:

- 68% of Americans believe new technologies and apps can help them improve their mental health.

- While 47% of Americans said they are interested in using a mental health chatbot or AI therapist, the majority (73%) said they would be interested in the solutions if they were scientifically proven.

- Ease of use, convenience and affordability are among the reasons people are interested in or use mental health chatbots.

- Americans' top priority when receiving mental health care is empathic, non-judgmental support when sharing their problems (42%). Nearly half (49%) of people who used a chatbot in the last two years said this was the reason they used chatbots, while 33% said it was because of cost effectiveness and good value.

- 68% of mental health chatbot users said they usually stick to a schedule when connecting with their chatbot; respondents said they engaged with their chatbot on average twice (2.3 times) per week.

"Americans see the potential of technology to deliver quality mental healthcare that can improve their lives. What's great is to see that the experience of care matters as much as the outcomes," said Woebot Health Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Monique Levy. "Relational technology is now realizing its true potential: to provide engaging and efficacious mental health services at scale."

Following an unprecedented year, 41% of respondents said that their mental health is average or worse. Further, 94% of people aged 18-24 reported that they struggle sometimes or often with their mental health, compared with 27% of people age 65+. Only 14% of Americans stated they never struggle with their mental health.

Despite this widespread need for mental health support -- especially among younger Americans -- only 30% report that they have sought out a mental health care provider in the past year. Of the 30% who have sought care, half of them said that they spoke with at least two providers before finding one that they were comfortable with, and 24% are still searching for a provider that they are fully comfortable with.

Barriers to receiving mental health care in the United States are obvious, multifaceted and well-documented, and Americans are eager for mental health care options that fit their unique needs and lifestyle. For instance, the majority of Americans (57%) said that they would prefer to receive mental health care outside of normal business hours. As such, more than half of Americans (58%) reported that they would be open to using a scientifically proven mental health chatbot while also seeing a human mental health provider.

Among those expressing interest in mental health chatbots, the top reasons for their interest were: access to care anytime (43%); ease of use (40%); ability to use them as much or as little as needed (39%); good value/cost effective (38%); and easy to get care on their own terms (38%).

The survey also revealed Americans' beliefs and opinions about how they may interact with mental health technology in the future. Forty-four percent said that fully automated mental health technology could help them as much as the mental health options that they have access to or are using today. Additionally, almost half (47%) say that they would share things with a mental health app or tool that they would not normally share with a human being.

The survey results also provide a snapshot into the usage of mental health chatbots. Twenty-two percent of respondents said that they have used a mental health chatbot. Of those respondents:

- 57% began using a chatbot during the Covid-19 pandemic.

- 44% use a chatbot exclusively and do not see a human therapist.

- 31% of respondents said that they use the chatbot only when experiencing acutely stressful situations or feelings, while 37% said that they use it to manage overall health.

- About one third (31%) said that they use it for both circumstances.

- 68% usually stick to a schedule when connecting with a mental health chatbot; users report engaging with their chatbot on average 2.3 times per week.

- 88% are likely to use a mental health chatbot again in the future.

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