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Care first partners with Woebot® to provide a fully AI-powered mental health chatbot app as part of workplace wellbeing

Care first, part of the Priory Group of mental healthcare specialists, has teamed up with San Francisco-based Woebot Labs Inc to provide people experiencing stress and mood management difficulties 24/7 access to a mental health chatbot programme through a smartphone application.

Care first, a leading provider of workplace wellbeing and counselling to employees of public and private sector organisations, is the first in the UK to incorporate ‘Woebot’ into its ‘Employee Assistance Programme’. The EAP Programme currently consists of a telephone counselling helpline, face-to-face counselling and a range of other support services.

After a brief introduction, the fully-automated conversational agent, named Woebot, will check in to ask the user’s mood and thoughts, and then employ Cognitive Behavioural Techniques (CBT) to help reframe thought patterns and improve negative emotions. The aim is that by checking in on mental and behavioural health daily, Woebot can help create more positive lifestyle behaviours.

Woebot welcomes people to share their thoughts and then guides them through applying effective techniques in moments when they need it most. An estimated two million messages are currently exchanged a week via the service, across more than 130 countries. Many are male professionals aged 25-34 - traditionally a ‘hard to reach’ group.

Psychological well-being impacts on all aspects of a person’s life, says Lesley Davidson, Director of Care first. She says that busy people want a convenient solution to their concerns that fits in with their lifestyle, and the earlier they can access help, the better their outcome overall. Woebot is constantly available with the tap of an icon to anyone with a smartphone.

“When accessing Woebot through Care first, if the bot detects crisis language from the user, it will confirm with the user, and then provide resources - specifically directing them to one of our BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited and employed counsellors. Thus, Woebot seamlessly links to all the services available from the total Care first EAP packages we offer - all free to the end user.

“Companies who use Care first will receive completely anonymised aggregate reporting on engagement; this fits in with the other EAP information they get from us that may help inform their mental health wellbeing strategies.

“It also means that we should be able to support employees who traditionally might not ever think of using the EAP. We'll be able to reach and work with more employees suffering from low mood and stress and provide support before something becomes a crisis. The individual benefits personally but like an EAP, it is a great organisational tool for supporting low mental wellbeing, preventing absenteeism, presenteeism and supporting duty of care.”

Lesley adds: “It’s a very positive offering for companies who want to support employees' mental health because it engages so many more people and invites them in to get real support - a great foundation for any Wellbeing Policy.”

Dr Alison Darcy, CEO and Founder of Woebot, says: “We’re thrilled to partner with Care first towards providing an evidence-backed programme for stress and mood management that is also readily accessible.”

Woebot Labs Inc adheres to hospital-level security policies and procedures to protect sensitive user data. All data is encrypted both in transit and at rest with 256-bit encryption or higher. Procedures for the anonymisation and transmission of user data adhere to the standards required by GDPR. Regular security audits and risk assessments are conducted by third-party penetration testing services and internal review, both quarterly and annually.

About Care first

Care first, part of the Priory Group, is an acknowledged leader in Employee Assistance Solutions. We have a proven track record in improving staff wellbeing, performance and attendance through working in active partnership with managers. Care first provides high quality resources for managers – to help them manage their teams, reduce conflict and solve problems. Using our professional support services, the impact of employees’ personal and work-related problems on your workplace will be significantly reduced. Through our experience across the world with client organisations varying in size from 25 to 220,000 employees, and across a multitude of industry sectors, we have developed tools and approaches that will benefit your business. Whatever business you are in, the wellbeing and commitment of your workforce will affect the performance of your organisation. Our services can provide personal support for each and every member of your workforce, whenever they need it, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

About Priory Group

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK, caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into four divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, adult care and Middle East. The Priory Group is owned by NASDAQ-listed Acadia Healthcare, which is recognised as a global leader in behavioural health.

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