Social media often gets a bad rap for feeding people's depression and other mental and emotional health issues. After all, reading about your friends' great jobs or all the things that appear to be going wonderfully in their lives can make you feel depressed about how you feel your own life is lacking. A recently introduced Facebook app, though, may change the way people view the relationship between social media and mental health.
In a recent study, 70 students who were suffering from depression or anxiety were randomly assigned for two weeks to engage with either a self-help eBook or Woebot, a chatbot therapist that runs through Facebook Messenger.
The students who used Woebot experienced reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. They also reported feeling like someone empathized with them.
The success of Woebot is based upon cognitive behavior therapy, which is the most effective treatment for mood-based disorders, such as depression. Cognitive behavior therapy helps people to understand how their thoughts and feelings influence their behaviors. The goal is to help people to focus on more positive thinking.
With Woebot, participants are encouraged to openly discuss their feelings. They are then given practical strategies to help them change their attitudes about their lives.
While Woebot is likely not the perfect solution for everyone with a mental health issue, it does offer at least a few benefits over visiting a traditional therapist. First, Woebot is there 24/7. You do not need to schedule an appointment and then wait to see your therapist. If you need to talk to someone, Woebot is available, even in the middle of the night.
Second, Woebot allows you to avoid some of the stigma associated with seeking help. Unfortunately, even though many people suffer from these issues at some point in their lives, there is still a stigma associated with seeking treatment. With Woebot, it is easier to seek treatment privately.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of Woebot is the cost. Unfortunately, some people cannot afford to visit a therapist. Woebot provides a free two-week trial. After that, users can use the app for $6-12/week.
If interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health section of our blog.
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