ChatPal app - mental health support at your fingertips!

‘ChatPal is an exciting new app developed through a positive psychology ChatBot’ which has been designed to support users’ mental health and wellbeing. Always available – 24/7, the ChatPal trial has launched earlier than originally planned in Northern Ireland, to provide support during these unprecedented times.


The app’s current icons make engagement quick and effective for users and have been developed to help those living with mental health issues, interact remotely for guidance and self-care advice. From a practical perspective, it also helps to reduce COVID-19 related pressure on already stretched mental health services. Developed by researchers from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Ulster University, using the WHO-5 scale framework and “PERMAH” based dialogue, the project technology is funded by the EU and the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The ChatPal partnership which includes Action Mental Health, Ulster University, Cork Institute of Technology, alongside mental health experts in Finland, Sweden and Scotland’s Western Isles, met virtually at a two-day ChatPal Conference last month, to discuss the future research and development of this groundbreaking app. Keynote speaker, Prof. Marcus Liwicki, Lulea University of Technology (LTU), gave an interesting address on the theoretical foundations of human-robot relationships and defined Artificial Intelligence (AI) in context with human behaviour. Dr Lauri Kuosmanen University of Eastern Finland (UEF) debated whether the current PERMAH model should be compared with other alternatives. Dr Kuosmanen also outlined the need for inclusion of exercise and practical tools, such as stress relief in future updates. The trial, which will measure ChatPal’s engagement, adoption and efficacy for supporting mental wellbeing, will provide valuable ongoing feedback and benchmarking to the experts and psychologists involved. According to ChatPal partnership member, Martin Malcolm, NHS, Western Isles (NHSWI), app trials to date have shown a marked trend towards those using the service. Martin revealed that a high percentage of app users were female, in their mid-forties from Northern Ireland and Sweden. However, an overview of the use of digital psychological tools in the Western Isles of Scotland is still pending due to a Government delay in decision making until they have adequate evidence of effectiveness. Dr Raymond Bond, Reader in Data Analytics at Ulster University said, “The ChatPal chatbot app is a computer program that can have a very basic conversation with users, and is developed using a form of artificial intelligence.” Dr Bond, has called for a published paper to ascertain future mental health needs through needs analysis and an outline of how content should be audited going forward. Members of the ChatPal team who attended the recent virtual ChatPal conference. David Babington, CEO, Action Mental Health, said “Chatbots are very engaging digital tools that facilitate positive conversations with clients – and that’s what people need – ‘conversation.’ We really do believe that the ChatPal app will be effective in coaching and upskilling people to support self-care and better management of their own wellbeing.” Professor Maurice Mulvenna of Ulster University said, “In our recent survey of over 180 mental health experts and professionals, over 75% of respondents said that they believed that chatbots are important in mental health care and that they would support the use of an app such as ChatPal, mainly for self-care, training and educating or coaching people about mental health and wellbeing.” The ChatPal app may be downloaded at the Google Play Store For more information please visit: