SINGAPORE - 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.
The new version of mindline.sg was launched on Thursday (Oct 22) 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.
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 with their healthcare needs.
IMH senior consultant Dr Jimmy Lee said of the website: "We hope that by providing an anonymous and safe space, and availing users to 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 to the mindline.sg site for free for a year, as it is usually a paid service.
The Wysa platform will also give users access to meditation, breathing, yoga, motivational conversations and exercises.
Users will not need to provide their personal information.
Dr Loke Wai Chiong, clinical director of programmes and head of integrated health promotion at MOHT said it would continue to observe the usage of mindline.sg, gather information and make improvements.
This could include adding specialised services for specific population groups such as young people, seniors and healthcare workers.
He 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 to the public in June 2020.
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 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.
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