As tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI), such as ChatGPT, become more popular in different areas of life, some are curious about the pros and cons to using AI for mental health. Chatbots can respond to prompts conversationally, creating a more engaging and intuitive user experience. Access to information, resources and advice have been made dramatically easier by AI, but users should exercise caution when using it for mental health information.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when using AI for mental health:

  1. It’s not a replacement for therapy. While ChatGPT can generate human-like responses and give detailed information to help you learn about mental health, it cannot diagnose an illness. It can suggest you seek help from a medical professional — but you should not rely on it for sound medical advice. Always defer to a trained professional, whether it be an in-person therapist or a telehealth service.
  2. Your “prompt engineering” makes a difference. The more specific your prompts are, the more targeted the responses become. If you give a broad overview for a topic you’re seeking information on, you will receive more generic responses rather than specific information. You can create better prompts by including symptoms, what objective you’re seeking and any pertinent, non-personal details to the topic you’re interested in learning about.
  3. Keep an eye out for misinformation or non-sourced stats. Remember that as with anything health-related, you’re seeking accurate and verifiable information. Ask for sources and for it to cite specific studies — and check those sources.
  4. Keep your personal information out of the conversation. When feeding ChatGPT prompts, it can be easy to include your private information by mistake — but keep in mind that all of that information is stored for future use. Instead of including personal identifiers or sensitive health information in your prompts, keep things more broad and save the personal information for chats with your medical professional.
  5. >Used wisely, ChatGPT can be beneficial for mental health. As mental health concerns continue to rise, ChatGPT can be leveraged to support users by offering support, providing coping strategies and self-care suggestions, and reminding patients of follow-up appointments.
While ChatGPT does not take the place of a medical professional, it can be a powerful support tool in mental healthcare, by enhancing efficiency and accessibility to care.

Artificial Intelligence and Mental Health