When people find themselves in mental distress, it can be particularly challenging for them to navigate their way towards the mental health support they need. AI has significant potential to enable and improve safe and effective navigation. For many Shout users (almost 40%), their journey begins by searching on Google. Based on feedback from Shout users, we know that in most cases people are searching for mental health support (particularly text-based and 24/7), but a small proportion of users are carrying out potentially harmful searches. For example, they might be searching about suicide methods, but were signposted to Shout via the Google OneBox, which appears at the top of the page following any such searches. Recent expansion of the OneBox to include eating disorder-related searches has led to a two-fold increase in the number of people contacting Shout about eating disorders or body image concerns. It is striking to see the effectiveness of this kind of simple, algorithmic-based signposting.
The Mix Connect
AI can also be a powerful way to support people in identifying the mental health resources and services that are most useful to them. The Mix Connect, powered by The Mix and Shout, is a simple plug-in to a school’s website or intranet that offers pupils direct access to youth-focused advice, a peer-led wellbeing community, information on local services and crisis support via text. A user-friendly 'How can we help?' interface helps guide users to the most helpful resources and services depending on their needs. There is no doubt considerable potential to build upon these kinds of tools, using increasingly advanced AI.