Flow, a Swedish medical device company, has launched a chatbot therapist for treating depression.
The chatbot, also called Flow, engages users with daily chat conversations and offers self-help techniques, mood tracking, curated videos, meditation and mental exercises.
It helps users to learn why sleep, exercise, nutrition and meditation are the main pillars in recovering from depression – and gathers mood data to offer a personalised response modelled on behavioural therapy.
The launch comes at a time when figures have shown extremely long waiting times for NHS patients regarding appointments for issues relating to mental health, with some waiting more than eight weeks after their first appointment.
Flow is based on the latest psychology and neuroscience research, and was developed by clinical psychologists and machine learning experts.
At present it is available to download for free on iOS, while an Android version will be available in October 2019.
Daniel Mansson, Clinical Psychologist, CEO and Co-Founder of Flow, said: “Accessibility and early intervention in depression is crucial.
“The ‘always-on’ source of therapy provided by Flow ensures people get the help they need as quickly as possible. Flow can provide anonymity without the fear of being judged by others.
“This is great as some people feel anxious when it comes to talking about their depression to another human.”
Flow can be used in conjunction with the Flow brain stimulation headset, launched by the company in June and available for £399.
Randomised controlled trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry show that brain stimulation, of the type used in the Flow headset, had a similar impact to antidepressants but with fewer and less-severe side effects.
Flow is starting talks with the NHS to have its brain stimulation headset available on prescription. The company recently announced an investment of £1.2 million by Khosla Ventures to roll out its offering across Europe, introduce the Flow headset to healthcare clinics in the UK, and fund clinical studies.