This will be a short & opinionated post, and as such should be something that you decide on whether you agree with or not. This will just be about using targeted AI’s for aiding you in understanding and then discussing your Mental Health & not about general use of AI’s. That topic will be covered in a separate post.
Should I use AI to help me write/talk about my Mental Health?
This is the question you want to ask yourself. For me, the answer currently and may always be no. This isn’t because I am against the use of it, I am just cautious and keeping track of it in my own way, and I feel that adding AI for myself, may not be all that beneficial.
Whilst entirely possible, and there are many forms of AI out there and available for you to make use of, this is something that I feel that the use of AI for this purpose is something that should be used with caution or not used at all. The big reason for this for me, is that it’s your mental health.
There are articles like AI as a force for better mental health which gives some reasons why you may want to use AI to help you track, manage & maintain your mental health & the author makes many great points for using AI in this way. However, one thing we should always remember about when technology like this comes around, is to spend some time to assess & determine if using it, it will help or hinder us. I am a key believer that technology, that is well designed, particularly with security and accessibility in mind, can & will, when used right, help us achieve our life goals. However it’s worth keeping in mind that whilst it can help in one way, silently it may actually be hindering or even damaging in another way that could be incredibly hard to spot. This can include hindering us from spotting tell tale signs & patterns of things that can and do affect our mental health, which is something that in my time, is perhaps the most common thing that many are looking for, other than what to do when they spot these patterns, both for use with themselves but also for use with others too.
AI for this is going to be a touchy subjet and more so as it’s constantly adapting based on how others have used it & with it’s training data & how often these are refreshed or scrubbed and reset. Because of this it may or may not give you relatable & useful information. Also you should always remember this information is highly sensitive and personal, and for a large number of people, is not something that they currently or may ever feel comfortable or want to share with others, let alone themselves or an AI. That said, I can certainly see where speaking to an AI could be for some much easier than to a trained professional, at least in the initial stages of their mental health journey. However it’s certainly useful being able to at least be mindful of it and keep some form of track of it yourself, but that doesn’t mean you need to use an AI to help you, however having the option here is yet another tool in the toolkit & one that you use everyday, or never use at all.
Which AI should I use?
This is not something that I currently have an answer for, and may never have an answer for. However if I do end up having an answer to this questions I will update this post if I find one that I think can be of real use & is incredibly transparent about the data they use, where its from, how they use the data you provide it, whether they anonymised it, importantly how much access the people supporting the app have to it & whether or not that data is sold on or not. I’d also want assurances and confirmation that if I wanted access to my data or for it to be deleted, that this would be possible.
Also it’s worth remembering that the AI’s data pool is a collective sense of mental health based on where it’s got it’s data from, and particularly the demographic of users that are using it. So it may never be something that fits well with you & your mental health. This is why I would say, if you choose to use any AI tool with your own mental health, then give it a short term trial, before a break and then make a decision on whether to continue use or not. But make sure whatever decision it is you make, its one that you are comfortable making. Don’t just rush to use it because lots of people around you are, as what works for them, may not work for you!
So if not an AI, then what?
Ideally you should have access to a counsellor and/or a specialist therapist, who may use AI technologies, and id they do they should tell you about them. Even if they don’t they can be incredibly useful and could help you in working out how to express to yourself/others about how you and your mental health are doing. That isn’t always possible though, whether because access to either can be costly, or perhaps can just take a long time to get one via your healthcare system, and this is a big reason why this site was set up which I detail in Mhasl.me and its purpose & long term intent.
If that is not possible then I hope that you have a good social circle that you can trust to talk with. If you do then I hope you are know of using existing theories, like Spoon Theory or analogies like detailed and linked to in An Intro to the #SwimmingPoolAnalogy - Going for a swim in the Pool of Mental Health as well as other non talking or writing therapies, like art or music therapies. Even just getting out in nature is something that you can make use of. However the most important thing, is as silly as it may sound, just talking to yourself every so often. I know that it can be seen as a “sign of madness” by some, however this is dependent on how it is that you talk to yourself.
AI, could be of use here, and should be something you decide about using it carefully. You should also ask for transparency about it’s use by anyone that you speak to about your Mental Health, professional or otherwise.
It may help you in finding the words to express about how you are feeling, and if so then great. Once you start to find those words, which is often as hard, if not harder, than making the decision to start talking about your mental health, I detail some ways that you could use that can help you in keeping a track in It’s #TimeToTalk, But it’s also #TimeToWrite, as writing & talking, even in small amounts helps us in stress relief. I plan to go into depth in a future post about the science behind writing in a post that’ll be called The Power of Writing, as well as another post about The Power of Talking which are both part of The Power of series.