Online therapy gaining traction

From Bustle:

In recent years, websites and apps that offer remote access to trained therapists have risen in popularity. The convenience of communicating with a therapist via smartphone and the relatively low cost are some of the drivers behind why people use these services; even the American Psychological Association recognizes online therapy as a resource on its site. Well-known platforms include BetterHelp, which matches users with an online counselor they can communicate with live via text, phone, or video starting at $40 a week, and Talkspace, which allows the exchange of text, audio, and video messages with a therapist beginning at $49 a week. Other platforms include MyTherapist and telehealth services available through employee assistance programs (EAPs). While these apps and services aren’t replacements for traditional face-to-face therapy, as the respective FAQs for BetterHelpTalkspace, and MyTherapist note, these platforms can help users get more familiar with their mental health.

Ashley Batz/Bustle

See this additional article in The Guardian for more. 

Why it’s hot: Patients say that therapy apps have been a cost effective way for them to gain judgement-free access to mental health care that they otherwise may not have even pursued, lowering the barrier to entry to address extremely common but often ignored issues. The convenience factor also plays a big role, as patients don’t have to worry about scheduling or getting to appointments, and can receive on-demand therapy when they need it – to cope with a loss, for example – or ongoing therapy for chronic mental health disorders like anxiety.

Twitter Places Focus on Media Over Text

Twitter is rolling out updates to it’s camera feature in an effort to increase media-sharing on the social platform. Up until now, the camera feature was buried in the tweet composer. Now it is available with one swipe left from the timeline.

This update doesn’t mean Twitter is launching stories, instead, the platform is making it easier for users to share real-time content that adds another layer to their conversations. Users can add their own text to videos and images, and Twitter will also recommend popular hashtags based on geographic location.

Why it’s hot: With Twitter’s reputation as a text-heavy platform, this update could change the types of content users are drawn to on this site. Users on each social platform typically engage with specific photography styles and imagery, but this precedent has not yet been set for Twitter. More media use will also make it easier for advertisers to place visual content on the feed.

Source

Woebot – Highly Praised App for Mental Health

AI counseling is the wave of the future. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy administered by a smart chatbot, via an app relying on SMS, has become highly popular and well reviewed. Woebot isn’t just the face of a trend, it’s a notable player in technology transforming healthcare.

Why It’s Hot

It’s not new. It’s better. The first counseling software was called Eliza. It was ~1966. Part of the difficulty was it required human intervention. Ironically, in 2019 when many believe a lack of human contact to be part of the problem, that void actually addresses a barrier in therapy. Perceived lack of anonymity and privacy. Sure therapist visits are confidential blah blah but people naturally have difficulty opening up in person. Plus there’s the waiting room anxiety. With an app, studies have shown that people get to the heart of their problem quicker.

Why it Matters

There’s a ton of demand for “talk therapy” and others. Human counselors can’t keep up. People wait weeks and months for appointments. That’s in the U.S. where they’re compensated well. In this On Demand age, that’s seen as unacceptable. Woebot, and others, address the market need for immediate gratification care. Another issue is cost. Therapy is expensive. Apps are obviously a solve here. No co-pay.

Obligatory Statement

All the apps remind users they’re no substitute for human counselors but they are helpful in reflecting behavior patterns and emotional red flags back to their users. At the very least, it’ll help you make the most of your next therapy visit.

Influencer caught in college admissions investigation

News broke this week of a vast college admissions cheating scheme in which wealthy parents paid hundreds of thousands to get their kids into elite universities by falsifying documents and test scores with the help and cooperation of coaches, and college and test administrators. Olivia Jade, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin (Full House), beauty and lifestyle influencer to 3 million followers across Instagram and YouTube was one of the beneficiaries, and now her Instagram account is under fire.

https://jezebel.com/heres-everything-i-learned-about-lori-loughlins-influen-1833237961

Why it’s hot: Reminds us that a potential brand crisis can come from the most unexpected places. Brands that have worked with Olivia Jade include Sephora, Amazon and Tres Semme, though it’s likely they’ll be blameless here. Sheds light on the tangled web of personal + private that comes with the mainstream macro influencer.

Smart cat shelter uses AI to let stray cats in during winter

For stray cats, winter is almost fatal. Using AI, a Baidu engineer has devised an AI Smart Cattery to shelter stray cats and help them survive Beijing’s cold winter.

It can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won’t work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space.A fresh air system monitors the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to ensure the small space is well-ventilated.

Another neat camera feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick — it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it.

Why it’s Hot: A neat implementation of AI for good – it pushes us to think beyond using AI for just marketing purposes and lets us imagine it’s role in helping solve human (and animal) problems.