Volume 16(2), 2020-08, 139—169

Hi, can I help? Exploring how to design a mental health chatbot for youths

Camilla Gudmundsen Høiland
University of Oslo
Norway

Asbjørn Følstad
SINTEF
Norway

Amela Karahasanovic
SINTEF
and
University of Oslo
Norway

Chatbots represent new opportunities for low-threshold preventive mental health support to youths. To provide needed knowledge regarding how to design chatbots for this purpose, we present an exploratory design study where we designed and evaluated a prototype chatbot to complement the work of school nurses in the school health service. The prototype was designed with particular regard for preventive mental health support. The design process involved school nurses, digital health workers, and youths. Through user insight activities, we identified four types of support to be provided through the chatbot: informational, relational, processual, and referral. We explored these four types of support through concept development and prototyping. These results are discussed as a potential basis for a framework for understanding youths’ needs regarding chatbots for preventive mental health support. When discussing the study findings, we point out how the study contributes to theory and practice and suggest avenues for future research.

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