Woebot launched two years ago with a mission to make mental health radically accessible. Founder & CEO Dr. Alison Darcy, a clinical research psychologist, saw first hand how many people were unable to obtain the mental health care they needed. More than half of the world’s population doesn’t have access to any mental health care, and an even greater number aren’t able to get help when they need it because it’s too expensive or wait times are too long. Dr. Darcy built Woebot -- a digital conversational agent that is available 24/7 and has provided support to people all over the world. By offering users evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques and leveraging Artificial Intelligence to constantly improve its conversational abilities, Woebot aims to be a resource to equip individuals with the tools they need to rework their negative thoughts, calm their anxieties, and track their mood. It is imperative to ensure people feel empowered to seek the support they need and to minimize the accessibility barriers that prevent people from having the resources they need to improve their mental health – because of that, we’ve used our social platforms as a complement to our product in an effort to further destigmatize mental illness.
Woebot was founded to meet people where they are, regardless of their ability to access mental health care, their geography, or their current clinical diagnosis. The product began as a Facebook Messenger conversational agent before becoming a stand-alone mobile application as it is today. In order to create a companion who could help people with their mental health, we brought in storytellers, data scientists, engineers, and designers to combine their love of writing stories, artificial intelligence, and robots. We are the only mental health care app focused on conversational lessons and founded by clinical psychologists.
Woebot was created by clinical psychologists with over 20 years of experience, and employs a Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Athena Robinson, who is currently a practicing psychologist. The combined perspectives of Drs. Darcy and Robinson helped ensure the program was grounded in the most effective available research. Woebot has been designed to deliver short, daily check-in to help reduce stress and improve users’ mood through interactive lessons, animations, and achievable goals.
Today, we have users worldwide, including areas of the world with no access to mental health care at all. Therapists have recommended Woebot to their patients to use in-between sessions, and we’re working to expand our reach to new communities every day.
The team is constantly iterating and building upon the foundational conversations in the app, striving to make the experience more effective and more friendly for the average user each day. By leveraging natural language processing and artificial intelligence, we’re able to make effective changes to make our users happier at scale. In addition to our app, we are consistently using our online presence to promote mental health awareness, destigmatize mental illness, and build community so users can feel connected to others.
In the past two years, Woebot has spoken to almost half a million people from all over the world and continues to reach new users every day. Before launching publicly, Woebot’s creators measured the efficacy of the product by conducting a randomized study at Stanford University which assigned half of the participants to check-in with Woebot daily for 2 weeks and the other half to read an e-book about CBT. The study confirmed that after 2 weeks, those in the Woebot group experienced a significant reduction in depression symptoms as compared to the e-book group. In addition, Woebot had notably high levels of engagement, with most participants using the bot nearly every day. Upon creation, Woebot’s mission was to make mental health radically accessible to everyone, no matter where they come from, and today we are proud to say Woebot has become an integral part of thousands of individuals’ mental health journeys. In the first 7 days of interacting with Woebot, on average 80.8% of users rate the lessons positively using our thumbs up vs. thumbs down feature, indicating to us that our lessons are having a positive impact. In addition, the app has a 4.7 star rating in the App Store and a 4.6 star rating in Google Play. With this in mind, as a team we work every day to ensure the app continues to improve so that every user feels supported and understood.