Oh my gosh, it’s March already! And while I am a bit shocked at how fast the time flew by, I am pretty excited because it’s Women’s History Month! To mark the occasion and honor women in tech, I have decided to test and review Wysa: Mental Health Support developed by Jo Aggarwal, the app’s co-founder and CEO.
So, what is Wysa, and why is it a potent app in today’s scenario? Because despite being important, mental well-being is often overlooked or pushed under the rug.
The stigma & ignorance surrounding it stops people from speaking out or sharing their issues. Wysa is a digital chatbot that supports users to overcome or handle their difficult times.
Wysa iPhone app review: How the AI penguin helps with depression and anxiety
Wysa is an AI-based, emotionally intelligent bot that assists users in managing their emotions and thoughts. Consider the cute-little teal penguin as your personal AI therapist, who listens and talks to you 24/7.
It employs several tools such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) to understand your emotional and mental health and offers well-guided meditation and breathing exercises.
Some benefits of AI therapists
- No judgments – Speak your heart out or bitch about people without a worry.
- Always accessible – No appointments or waiting! The chatbot is available 24/7.
- Cheaper – Even if you opt for their premium version, it is still more affordable.
- Plays multiple roles – It doubles as a journal and an understanding friend.
Well, these are some great perks, but nothing could beat the benefit or charm of one-to-one interaction with a therapist. Wysa wisely brings them into the picture.
Wysa also offers personal therapists!
When you need some external help from your home’s comfort, Wysa’s global mental health professionals could be of great help. You can get daily messaging support and 4 live sessions for less than $100/month.
Let’s meet the CEO & founder of Wysa
Jo Aggarwal has a pretty impressive career graph, which started with a stint at Infosys as a software engineer. She has been a part of the internet/product tech development industry since 1997.
As of now, Aggarwal handles the algorithm design, troubleshooting, and UX for Wysa. She beautifully explains her motive and mission behind the app in an interview:
We have lost loved ones to suicide, and she herself has struggled with depression – our search for useful, usable help at this time showed us the huge gap that exists in current systems of care. This led us to develop Wysa as a response so that high-quality support is always accessible for those who need help.
Accolades for Wysa
In 2020, Wysa won the Accenture Ventures Challenge in the Responsible Technology category. Plus, ORCHA, the world’s leading health app evaluation agency, named it the ‘Best App Health & Care.’
And among other things, it is Aggarwal’s relentless work & social ethics that has led the app to this stage. The iGeeks team and I would like to appreciate and congratulate Jo Aggarwal for her passion and the efforts she has put in to build and promote mental health awareness.
Can Artificial Intelligence help with mental fitness?
After reading all the accolades about the app and Aggrawals’ life story and interviews, I was intrigued to use Wysa. From the start, a pertinent question was bugging me:
Would an AI really understand my unique set of issues and troubles?
Well, I got my answer. To help you understand the app and its working better, I have divided my experience into parts.
The cute & colorful UI
Wysa’s icon is a teal-colored penguin, and the app continues the ‘cartoonish’ approach all the way. A calming color-story is maintained, whether you prefer the dark or light mode.
It’s pretty easy to maneuver; everything is well-labeled and approachable. It is a great thing considering some users might be low on patience initially.
Wysa wants to be your 4 am friend; it says so on the main page. You can approach the chatbot any time, and it will gladly oblige. It firstly enquires your mood with the smiley’s help.
This will act as an ice breaker, and your mood will be the topic of discussion. Whether anger, gratitude, frustration, happiness, or hopelessness, it will listen to everything you have to say.
Depending upon the conversation, it will prompt you suggestions for journaling, meditation, or relaxing exercises. Quite like a millennial, it would occasionally share funny GIFs, inspirational quotes, etc.
The audio support
Also doubling as a mindfulness app, Wysa supports an array of helpful content. Dubbed as Tool Packs, they are neatly divided into wellness, productivity, anxiety management, and more.
I love how detailed and exhaustive these categories are. A few inspire you, help you sleep better, overcome grief, and build confidence or self-esteem.
Although, there is one problem… the voice is monotonous. Whether it says love or anger or compassion, everything is in the same tone. No background music makes things boring, and the mind tends to wander off.
That was not the case during meditation sessions with Calm or Pillow. And maybe it’s just me, and it works for others, but the audio help did not impress me.
While Wysa doesn’t have a separate journalling section, it keeps your chats as a journal entry. So you can check them out as and when you want. Since the chats are dated and have quite descriptive titles, finding one is easy.
I also noticed the app smartly using hashtags. While chatting, it will prompt you to make a list of tasks, what makes you happy, etc. Later you can type in #list to edit or add new things to any list you have made; smart, right!
Mindfulness does not happen in a day; you have to practice daily. From the Notifications section in the setting, you set multiple arrays of daily or weekly reminders for yourself.
And though the company stores and refers to your data to improve the AI, it doesn’t ask you intimate details like photos, phone numbers, or mail IDs.
Moreover, you can regularly reset your data from the settings to ensure your private talks remain private.
Was AK’s week with Wysa appy?
Yes and No! The start of the week, i.e., Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, was quite great as I enjoyed interacting with the Wysa bot, exploring the features, and listening to the audio content offerings.
However, the excitement quickly wore off. Majorly because all the talks got repetitive by Monday. While the app tries to learn and grow with you, it doesn’t really understand the unique set of issues and troubles you might be facing.
I could predict what the bot will ask me to do next. And not so surprisingly, as per a study, that happens with almost all AI-therapist users.
I must say the app is well built. If you need an outlet to vent about your issues and troubles, it is spot on. There are times you don’t need a professional to point out issues; just saying it out loud could make a difference.
In that sense, Wysa can be of great help to most of us. And since it is free to download and offers a decent freemium version, you should give it a try.
AK Meter (Points out of 5)
What is Appy Week with AK?
I love observing apps and how they make our lives better from different angles. Appy Week with AK is a unique series that amalgamates my passion for apps and users’ need to find the perfect app.
Under the series, I pick and test an app thoroughly every week. Then report all my observations and experience to you guys; so you can figure out whether to skip or download it.
So, make sure you take full benefit and follow the Appy Week with AK series closely. If you have any queries regarding this app, feel free to ask the same in the comment sections below.
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