Funded Projects

Project ChatPal

Project Acronym ChatPal
Project Title Conversational Interfaces Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing of People in Sparsely Populated Areas
Project subsite


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. Traditional one-to-one mental health services supporting people with chronic mental illness as well as mild-to-moderate mental illness is expensive and resource limited. One-to-one intervention support requires significant travel for clients living in rural areas; hence accessibility to traditional treatments are a particular concern. Moreover, given mental ill health remains a stigma, citizens often feel embarrassed when setting up appointments with a support person due to the lack of anonymisation.

ChatPal will undertake pilot trials in 5 NPA regions, increasing citizen access to psychotherapeutic support using a computer-based intervention service which will be in the form of a conversational user interface, or chatbot, based partly on the needs analysis workshops carried out in the NPA VoicePal preparatory project. This chatbot service will be available 24/7 and allows users to receive support through a natural voice or text based conversation that is driven by artificial intelligence.

ChatPal will be a new, blended mental health service offering. ChatPal augments and extends the reach of traditional existing services but does not replace these services. The technology will be usable and intuitive as it is similar to everyday human-to-human conversations allowing the technology to be adopted by those with poor computer literacy. ChatPal will enable people to easily access support at the point of need in the form of a conversation. Evidence within our preparatory project suggests that citizens will engage or open up sooner to an online virtual presence (chatbot) in comparison to a human project worker due to anonymity and the lack of stigmatisation.


To understand the mental health and digital mental health requirements of older and younger citizens in rural and sparsely populated NPA regions

This objective is critical in providing a user centric chatbot service. We need to better understand the digital mental health needs and requirements amongst people in rural and sparsely populated areas and their willingness to use a chatbot service.

To co-create and pilot a multilingual chatbot service that is effective for providing a blended digital mental health service supporting project workers and skills coaches across different NPA regions and age groups

This objective is to develop a chatbot service that is user friendly and multilingual and with a knowledge base that is akin to the explicit knowledge of healthcare professionals in order to provide appropriate interventions at the point of need.

To inform, and to increase awareness and attitudes of mental health and healthcare professionals regarding the use of digital health tools and particularly chatbots to augment and improve mental health service provision

The co-creation aspects of the project and the toolkits to assist professionals will be used to educate and improve the attitudes of healthcare professionals towards the use of eHealth tools and the adoption of AI chatbots for providing 24hr support.


Lead Partner


Project Info

Emergency, natural disasters, risk prevention, health
1 Innovation
1.2 Increased innovation in public service provision
Project duration
30-09-19 to 29-09-22
Total budget
1 495 551 EUR
NPA co-financing
972 108 EUR
Target groups
local public authority
regional public authority
national public authority
sectoral agency
infrastructure and (public) service provider
interest groups including NGOs
higher education and research
education/training centre and school
General public
Joint Secretariat Desk Officer
Rachel Burn