Changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as social isolation and economic uncertainty, have put a significant strain on individual and community mental health and well-being. Researchers at Ontario Tech University are partnering with community organizations to help address mental health challenges faced by students, faculty, staff and the local community using a peer-support platform powered by artificial intelligence.
The research team developed a free and accessible web and smartphone-based chatbot called COVID Connect where users can anonymously and interactively share their pandemic struggles and triumphs. The chatbot collects stories and presents them to other users, and, as the conversation progresses, users find background comments from others that are similar to their own experiences to help foster solidarity and empathy.
The chat script addresses 10 key COVID-19-related challenges, which were identified in collaboration with the City of Oshawa. This includes topics, such as online schooling, work-from-home, child care, employment and finances.
For more information, visit Ontario Tech University.