“Current mental health service provision for NPA citizens cannot meet the rising demand to prevent and manage mental ill health. There is a lack of digital mental health support for tracking symptoms and for providing treatments and coping strategies at the point of need for 24/7”. This was the situation described by the ChatPal partnership in their application to the NPA, in 2018.
To overcome this limit, the ChatPal project has been working since to deliver conversational interfaces - aka computers capable of having a conversation with a person - supporting mental health and wellbeing of people in sparsely populated areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic placed further pressure on already stretched mental health services. Helplines and online services became the only viable option for mental health and wellbeing support. This was of particular concern for people living on their own who may be feeling even more isolated and anxious. Therefore, the ChatPal app has been launched earlier than initially planned to provide support during these unprecedented times.
‘ChatPal - Your Positive Psychology ChatBot’ is a new mental health app designed to support user’s mental health and wellbeing. The app can have a basic conversation with users around how to maintain positive emotions and good physical health, develop relationships, as well as engendering a sense of accomplishment and meaning.
ChatPal Partners from Region Norrbotten, Norrbotten Association of Local Authorities and Lulea University of Technology in Sweden, worked with NHS Western Isles in Scotland and Action Mental Health in Northern Ireland to define the user needs for the app while Cork Institute of Technology Department of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies partnered with the University of Eastern Finland to help define the wellbeing and positive psychology conversations for the app.
The ChatPal app is now available for download on the Google Play Store (https://bit.ly/ChatPalApp). The app is available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.