Coronavirus: Situation in Singapore

Feeling stressed? Chat with 'emotionally intelligent' Wysa

Users are also promised anonymity when using the 'emotionally intelligent' chatbot platform Wysa.
Users are also promised anonymity when using the 'emotionally intelligent' chatbot platform Wysa.PHOTO: TEMASEK POLYTECHNIC

An online chatbot is now available to those feeling stressed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to help them build mental resilience and learn self care.

Users are also promised anonymity when using the "emotionally intelligent" chatbot platform, Wysa, which is available on the latest version of Web app service mindline.sg

This new version was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), Ministry of Social and Family Development, National Council of Social Service and Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The website consolidates access to local stress management and coping resources, and directs users to useful hotline numbers.

It also has a well-being self-assessment tool to help users match resources to healthcare needs.

IMH senior consultant Jimmy Lee said of the website: "We hope that by providing an anonymous and safe space, and availing users of the self-assessment tool with needs matching to resources, we can reduce the barriers to help-seeking, and empower them to take the first step to self-management and regaining their emotional and mental well-being."

The agencies worked with health tech start-up Touchkin to bring its chatbot Wysa - usually a paid service - to the mindline.sg site free for a year. The Wysa platform will also give users access to meditation, breathing and yoga exercises, as well as motivational conversations.

Users do not have to provide their personal information.

Dr Loke Wai Chiong, MOHT's clinical director of programmes and head of integrated health promotion, said it would continue to observe the use of mindline.sg, gather information and make improvements. This could include adding specialised services for specific population groups such as the youth, seniors and healthcare workers.

Dr Loke added: "We will also work towards building more culturally contextualised content, responsive to the evolving needs of the community. In the longer term, we hope that this innovation can increase public health capability and create high impact at a relatively low cost."

Mindline.sg was first rolled out in June to the public.

Ms E. Koh, who declined to give her full name, turned to mindline.sg after losing her job as an administrative manager when her organisation was restructured.

"I was getting anxious because at my age, it could be difficult to find a new job, especially at a time like this. A friend recommended mindline.sg, to help me manage my emotions better," said the 49-year-old.

While seeking advice via the website, Ms Koh also found out more about skills upgrading and retraining as well as volunteering opportunities. She is now thinking of taking up courses in befriending, to become a volunteer and reach out to socially isolated elderly people.

  • Helplines

  • National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

    Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

    Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

    Institute of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222

    Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

    Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

    Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2020, with the headline 'Feeling stressed? Chat with 'emotionally intelligent' Wysa'. Subscribe