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Co-Design and Case-Series Results

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

There is a shortage of mental health professionals worldwide, and a growing number of people with mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Digital interventions, including chatbots, are an accessible method of providing mental health support that could address this shortfall.

Manage Your Life Online (MYLO) is a highly flexible and user-led AI chatbot that asks questions tailored to user’s responses in real time. MYLO asks questions to keep the user’s awareness on the problem they want to deal with. The user can then explore and think about their problem in greater depth and get a new perspective on it. MYLO is based on a form of therapy called Method of Levels (to learn more, see links below).

In June 2022 we received funding from the Western Australian Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund to develop a new version of MYLO for the young people of Western Australia (16–24-year-olds). Prior to this grant, MYLO was only available as a web application on desktop computers. To make MYLO more accessible, we wanted to make it available on people’s smartphones.

We recruited a youth advisory committee of ten young people who had experienced anxiety and/or depression to help us modernise the interface and improve MYLO’s functionality and accessibility. Over 4 months the youth advisory committee tested improved versions of MYLO, and they provided feedback and recommendations for new features.

We then tested the newly developed MYLO application with a sample of 13 diverse young people from Western Australia. Participants used MYLO for 2 weeks. During this time, they completed online surveys about their well-being. After the 2 weeks they attended a focus group or interview to tell us about their experience.

Most participants were positive about their experience of using MYLO and would recommend MYLO to others. They enjoyed the simple interface and found it easy to use. We also found evidence that participants problem related distress decreased over the testing phase. Some participants stated that since using MYLO they have continued to think about their problems following MYLO’s principles:

But I've noticed, even when I'm not using MYLO, it kind of helps ground me when I'm, like, oh, I need to think about why I'm feeling this way. So, all in all, it has helped me, even today.” (Focus group participant)

I found even when I left the conversation, feeling, like, kind of annoyed, I noticed that I would still keep picking up things that MYLO has, like, taught me, especially with kind of trying to understand why I'm feeling something or exactly what I'm feeling, and kind of bringing myself back down to the ground.” (Focus group participant).

The results suggest MYLO has the potential to support users to resolve their own problems in both the short and long term. We think that long-term reductions in problem-related distress and improvements to users’ ability to resolve their own problems will lead to reductions in anxiety and depression. We hope to demonstrate this in a longer planned trial soon.

We are also further co-designing MYLO to include features and recommendations that we could not complete during this project. This includes improving the range of MYLO’s questions and employing an authentication platform to enhance data protection and accessibility across devices.

Key points:

  • Western Australian Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund allowed us to develop a new version of MYLO that is compatible with smartphones.

  • The new interface was co-designed with a youth advisory committee of young people with experience of anxiety and depression.

  • We conducted a small 2-week study where 13 young people tested MYLO, completed questionnaires about their wellbeing and attended a focus group or interview.

  • Young people were positive about the new interface and found it easy to use.

  • We found decreases in participants problem-related distress over the 2-weeks.

  • We are planning future developments to MYLO and a larger and longer trial to demonstrate MYLOs effectiveness.

Preprint for the journal article for this study is available here:

To learn more about Method of Levels therapy clink here:

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