Chinese University of Hong Kong Launches AI Chatbot to Support Student Mental Health

Hong Kong Asia Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 25, 2024

Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

An artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot will support students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) with their mental health.

The university says it has employed this chatbot amid an increased need for mental health care following a donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, a charity donor and one of the oldest institutions in Hong Kong, reports.

The non-profit organization invested in the new platform, which incorporates generative AI into the Jockey Club TourH+ project and provides online psychological help to students. University students in the city can also access self-help tools on this platform.

This platform’s first priority is early detection, meaning efforts to identify the early symptoms of mental health problems and provide effective support to prevent them from becoming illnesses. The platform is expected to benefit 65,000 new users over four years.

The Head of the Wellness and Counselling Center at CUHK, Iris Lam, stressed that the center is struggling to meet the growing student demand for therapy, South China Morning Post reported.

“We do have psychological support services available for students. However, despite these efforts, we have observed an increasing trend in recent years where some students experience severe mental health issues, including [thoughts of] suicide,” she said.

According to the newspaper, she also made known that not only do more students seek help, but the complexity of their condition has also intensified, and they often report more than one mental health issue, from academic stress to personal problems.

Lam expressed optimism about the Jockey Club TourHeart+ project, which she said will initially help students online and assess their condition before the latter appear physically for therapy, especially in tough times during the academic year.

A study involving 6,082 individuals aged 6-17 and their parents carried out between 2019 and 2023 by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that one in four Hong Kong children and adolescents had experienced at least one mental health condition in 2023. Half of them reported experiencing two or more mental health issues at the same time.

According to Hong Kong Jockey Club Center for Suicide Research and Prevention, at least 37 students in Hong Kong committed suicide last year. Additionally, nearly 269 students attempted suicide, with instances of suicide attempts within schools they were attending.

The same report revealed that among 306 students who attempted or committed suicide, more than half reported experiencing mental health problems, and less than 40 percent sought professional help.

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