Towards a chatbot for digital counselling

Gillian Cameron, David Cameron, Gavin Megaw, Raymond Bond, Maurice Mulvenna, Siobhan O’Neill, Cherie Armour, Michael McTear

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to outline the design of a chatbot to be used within mental health counselling. One of the main causes of the burden of disease worldwide is mental health problems. Mental health contributes to 28% of the total burden of disease, compared to 16% each for cancer and heart disease in the UK. Stress, anxiety or depression accounted for 15.8 million days of sickness absence across the UK in 2016. By 2020, the gap between the demand for mental health care and the resources the National Health Service (NHS) can provide is likely to widen, therefore providers are increasingly needing to find more cost-effective ways to deliver mental health care. Digital Interventions have been created to help with these issues, for example anxiety, stress and depression. Chatbots can be incorporated into digital interventions, or used as standalone interventions. Chatbots can be a more interactive experience for the user to receive information, or complete diagnostic tools, or to even be used for counselling. A demo chatbot was created using interactive emoji’s and GIFs to improve the user experience when searching for online self-help tips. This chatbot will be further developed and incorporated into a full web based programme for mental health in the workplace. It is envisaged that the chatbot will be able to provide initial counselling, and lead users into the correct services or self-help information.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference: Digital Make Believe, HCI 2017 - Sunderland, United Kingdom
Duration: 03 Jul 201706 Jul 2017


Conference31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference: Digital Make Believe, HCI 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Chatbots
  • Counselling
  • Digital interventions
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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