Haidh, is mise ChatPal! – A new Gaelic Chatbot for mental wellbeing

NHS Western Isles has been supporting the development and testing of a mental wellbeing chatbot with partners in Finland, Sweden, and Ireland. Now, as part of this unique multi-lingual project, NHS Western Isles has supported the creation of a new Scottish Gaelic version. In the next few weeks 20 participants living in the Western Isles will take part in an approved four-week trial to test both the English and Scottish Gaelic versions.

Chatbots are computer programmes which simulate human conversation via online chat text. The Chatbot content has been finalised with psychologists at University of Eastern Finland and the translated scripts are included in the test version of the chatbot by developers at Munster Technology University in Ireland. Rachel Allan, a native Gaelic-speaking Counselling Psychologist, has assisted NHS Western Isles with content in the Gaelic version.

Dr Alison Robertson, Consultant Clinical Psychologist with NHS Western Isles noted, “The Scottish Government has included digital mental health interventions as part of national recovery from the pandemic, and Scotland has a lot to contribute to ongoing research. We need to learn how these applications can be most helpful. We are really grateful to members of the public who have helped us so far in testing and snagging – even chatbots have to be developed by humans!”

Early next year the Scottish Gaelic and English versions will also be tested in a longer 12-week trial which is anticipated to include input from local students at the University of the Highlands & Islands and from local mental health support organisations and the people that they support.

Martin Malcolm, project lead at NHS Western Isles, said “A lot of work has gone into developing the chatbot, starting over a year ago at workshops with a range of community groups and professionals. We are very excited to finally reach the stage of trialling the chatbot. We are especially pleased to be doing so among Gaelic speakers in our community and believe the chatbot will be the first of its type in Gaelic.”

Also included in the project is the first ever Scottish Gaelic version of the Warwick Edinburgh mental well-being scale recently approved by the authors at Edinburgh and Warwick University.

Further details here


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