Stanford scholars discuss the benefits and risks of using talking software to address mental health

mental health
Conversational software programs are making it possible for people to seek mental health care online and via text, but the risks and benefits need further study, Stanford experts say. (Image credit: roshinio / Getty Images)

Conversational software programs might provide patients a less risky environment for discussing mental health, but they come with some risks to privacy or accuracy. Stanford scholars discuss the pros and cons of this trend.


Interacting with a machine may seem like a strange and impersonal way to seek mental health care, but advances in technology and artificial intelligence are making that type of engagement more and more a reality. Online sites such as 7 Cups of Tea and Crisis Text Line are providing counseling services via web and text, but this style of treatment has not been widely utilized by hospitals and mental health facilities.

Stanford scholars Adam MinerArnold Milstein and Jeff Hancockexamined the benefits and risks associated with this trend in a Sept. 21 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They discuss how technological advances now offer the capability for patients to have personal health discussions with devices like smartphones and digital assistants.

Stanford News Service interviewed Miner, Milstein and Hancock about this trend.

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