A chatbot for young people (13–24 years old) to help them manage their worries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does the chatbot do?
Aroha is a chatbot designed to help young people cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing positive ways of coping. To appeal to a younger audience (13–24 years), the chatbot works on Facebook Messenger.
To set up an account, you can use Habits portal, a secure online portal. Thereafter, you will get link to Facebook that will connect you with Aroha chatbot. After a few days of using it, Aroha will send you a link to give them feedback.
✔ The main menu covers the following: COVID-19 resources, check your hauora (mental health questionnaire), how are you going now? and activities.
✔ The activities menu covers the following: calming activities, staying connected, spirituality, practising gratitude, distracting yourself, getting active, getting expert help and general tips. The general tips section is a sub-menu covering alcohol & drugs, sleep, self-care and having a routine. The self-care section has guided audio mindfulness recordings.
✔ Sometimes recognised when the reviewer was in danger.
✔ Strong Māori and te reo focus.
✔ The user can respond with preset emojis or text.
✘ Stated to be still in development.
✘ Access is through a research study only.
✘ Facebook Messenger is required.
✘ The bot didn't remember the reviewer on their second session (eg, it asked for their name again).
✘ No videos.
✘ The pure chat-based system makes navigation through the programme difficult without a universally accessible menu or a way to quickly quit out of activities and menus.
✘ Only some of the 10 audio recordings would load.
Date of review: April 2020 (accessed 27/4/2020)
Platform reviewed: Web-based browser
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Reviewer: Jeremy Steinberg, GP, RNZCGP
Date of review: April 2020
Comments: Aroha is a Facebook Messenger chatbot for supporting hauora during the COVID-19 pandemic that must be accessed through a University of Auckland research study. It is stated to be still in development. It starts with introductions, and then has several embedded menus guiding the user through various activities. There is a strong Māori and te reo focus which was great to see.
Navigation was difficult with the pure chat system. A hybrid system, such as with the app Curable (for general mental health and trauma), works better where it has both a chatbot and a menu system. Perhaps the developers could find a way to integrate easier navigation and aborting activities through the pure Facebook Messenger chat system.
Due to the lack of an overview of the programme I cannot be certain that I covered all the activities.
Safety concerns: It only sometimes seemed to recognise when the reviewer said they were in trouble, but there is frequent mention of various other supports available.
New Zealand relevance: Developed in New Zealand for the New Zealand context.