Pandemic Photo O’ Day 57

It’s not long after midnight (15 min to be exact) and I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop for a while tonight getting caught up on grading my students’ work. It’s somewhat interesting, yet time consuming.

Since I’ve spent most of my day in front of a screen, I thought it was apt to make today’s image a screen shot, albeit from my phone.

If you listen to any podcasts, you’ve likely heard of the BetterHelp app – one of a growing number of apps which will facilitate your connection to therapeutic counseling.

With the growing mental health “crisis” due to COVID-19 along with on-going physical distancing, I imagine these apps are seeing quite a bit of activity.

I’ve not used any of this family of apps, but I do find value in two free AI based “chat-bot” apps which help me reflect on what I’m feeling.

The first one and my favorite of two similar apps is Woebot.

Here’s shots from my “chat” a little while ago:

You can see how the user interface looks much like a chat or messaging app. The user can sometimes enter text directly, but more often it’s the choice between a couple of responses. I like how Woebot is a friendly and fun character who has a good-natured “personality”

And he’s pretty dang cool, because the song he quoted in that last screen shot – “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen is one of the most profound songs that I’ve heard:

The other app is Wysa. It offers more opportunity for the user to input feelings and activities, although it’s AI-based responses aren’t always the most fluid.

While both apps are free to use the functionality shown above, Wysa does have a link to paid therapeutic services similar to what is offered by BetterHelp and others.

Neither Woebot nor Wysa offer an experience quite like talking to a human therapist or texting to a friend.

And for me, neither would pass the Turing Test

I do like them and use them as they encourage me to stop and reflect on what I’m feeling.

I don’t do this often enough in my day to day living. These free apps, complete with pop-up notifications that I can set, offer me a few minutes of “pause” – along with often helpful thoughts and encouragement.

And after using them, I feel better and glad that I took the time to “check-in” rather than open a news app or play a game.

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