Supporting mental health self-care discovery through a chatbot

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Good mental health is imperative for one’s wellbeing. While clinical mental disorder treatments exist, self-care is an essential aspect of mental health. This paper explores the use and perceived trust of conversational agents, chatbots, in the context of crowdsourced self-care through a between-subjects study (N = 80). One group used a standalone system with a conventional web interface to discover self-care methods. The other group used the same system wrapped in a chatbot interface, facilitating utterances and turn-taking between the user and a chatbot. We identify the security and integrity of the systems as critical factors that affect users’ trust. The chatbot interface scored lower on both these factors, and we contemplate the potential underlying reasons for this. We complement the quantitative data with qualitative analysis and synthesize our findings to identify suggestions for using chatbots in mental health contexts.