"Suddenly, we got to become therapists for each other": Designing peer support chats for mental health

Katie O'Leary, Stephen M. Schueller, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Wanda Pratt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Talk therapy is a common, effective, and desirable form of mental health treatment. Yet, it is inaccessible to many people. Enabling peers to chat online using effective principles of talk therapy could help scale this form of mental health care. To understand how such chats could be designed, we conducted a two-week field experiment with 40 people experiencing mental illnesses comparing two types of online chats-chats guided by prompts, and unguided chats. Results show that anxiety was significantly reduced from pre-test to post-test. User feedback revealed that guided chats provided solutions to problems and new perspectives, and were perceived as "deep," while unguided chats offered personal connection on shared experiences and were experienced as "smooth." We contribute the design of an online guided chat tool and insights into the design of peer support chat systems that guide users to initiate, maintain, and reciprocate emotional support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2018 - Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationEngage with CHI
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356206, 9781450356213
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 20 2018
Event2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Apr 21 2018Apr 26 2018

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
Volume2018-April

Other

Other2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityMontreal
Period4/21/184/26/18

Keywords

  • Behavioral interventions
  • Health
  • Mental health
  • Peer counseling
  • Peer support
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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