Nimbus works with ChatPal : Towards a chatbot assisted mental health and wellbeing ecosystem

Nimbus works with ChatPal : Towards a chatbot assisted mental health and wellbeing ecosystem

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The Nimbus Research Centre continues to make good progress in relation to its participation in the INTERREG NPA ChatPal project

Recent developments have seen the circulation of a chatbot end user survey to a large cohort of healthcare representatives and personnel, completion of a RASA framework workshop and delivery of the co-design workshop with members of CIT staff involved in aspects of mental health and wellbeing on the CIT campus.

What is ChatPal all about?

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. ChatPal will be a new, 24/7 blended mental health service offering which 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. For more information please visit – http://chatpal.interreg-npa.eu/

Who is involved?

The ChatPal consortium is led by Ulster University and joined by the following participants:

University of Eastern Finland, Norrbotten Association of Local Authorities (Sweden), Region Norrbotten (Sweden), Lulea University of Technology (Sweden), NHS Western Isles (Scotland), Action Mental Health (Northern Ireland), Cork Institute of Technology (Republic of Ireland) and associate partner Health Innovation Hub Ireland (Republic of Ireland).

Recent wins.

To get a sense of how much the healthcare sector know about chatbots and how such technology could have a role to play in supporting mental wellbeing the ChatPal consortium circulated an end user survey. The survey is still open. A paper targeting an autumn conference will be published that will describe an analysis of the survey feedback. Watch this space.

On March 3rd, Nimbus hosted a RASA Workshop. The RASA framework is one of many open source conversational AI that can be used to invoke chatbot functionality into an online or mobile device based app experience. The workshop was delivered by Shay Van Dam of Maverick Communications International. A big thanks to Shay for delivering a very interesting and well-structured workshop.

Attendees at the workshop included ChatPal lead partners Ulster University’s Prof Maurice MulvennaDr Raymond Bond and Courtney Potts, all with data science and computing interests.

In addition, Ulster University Emeritus Professor Mike McTear was also present. Mike is a very interesting character with some fabulous publications to his name including Spoken dialogue technology: enabling the conversational user interface. Mike has been beating the chatbot drum for most of his academic life.

Nimbus have started using the RASA framework to create the chatbot platform and enable partners to experiment with their new way of user interaction.

On March 11th, Nimbus hosted an INTERREG NPA ChatPal “Chatbot Design” workshop. Nimbus “Chatpals” reached out t a wide variety of CIT academics, staff and student representatives with mental well-being interests.

The focus of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for all participants to share their own experiences and insights in a collaborative and creative environment setting. During the workshop participants completed co-design activities, from identifying primary end-users, which could potentially benefit from using ChatPal, through to then describing the needs and goals of each user type. Each group of participants then reflected upon this collective information to create a Persona for a end-user and the Chatbot, which helped the participants explore and communicate user requirements even further. Having our participants co-desing Personas was a very constructive exercise, where many of the participants commented after the workshop that the Persona exercise let them imagine and empathise with the Persona type they had created, such as where the Persona exercise helped brings the user to life.

Each group of participants created a User and Chatbot Persona which were then presented which inspired an engaging follow-on discussion to be had amongst all the attendees at the workshop. All output from this co-design experience will be used to further develop use cases and relevant chatbot dialogues. Each partner region will host similar workshops targeting different demographic use cases. 

Nimbus would like to sincerely thank all participants at our recent workshops. The ChatPal consortium extends a big thanks to Nimbus User Experience designer and Research Fellow Kevin O’Mahony, alongside interns Garvan Peck and Peter Hayes, for facilitating an excellent co-design workshop.

For more information please contact Brian Cahill, Brian.cahill@cit.ie or Kevin O’Mahony, kevin.omahony@cit.ie