Wysa: Mental Health Support
By Ana Beltran,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Engaging AI chat and wellness tools not for kids in crisis.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Teens can access tools that will help them build skills to cope with different emotions. They’ll also practice mindfulness techniques and will be able to chat with a trained coach if they want to address more targeted topics.
Ease of Play
Upon launching the app, there's a brief tutorial and the chatbot introduces users to the purpose and benefits of the app. The chat feature resembles texting and sometimes suggests responses for a more fluid and efficient conversation. Swipe and tap to choose from a variety of tools and follow the prompts.
Products & Purchases
Premium subscription, which is available through in-app purchases, is necessary to unlock some of the app’s features and tools. Some in-app promotional offers for Premium subscription. At the time of review, one such offer advertised one week of free premium subscription for every friend that signs up with a maximum of four friends and one month of free subscription.
Parents Need to Know
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Wysa: Mental Health Support
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What’s It About?
WYSA: MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT has a range of components: conversational therapy with artificial intelligence (AI); targeted coaching from a human expert; and a variety of tools to cultivate confidence, cope with stress, and build overall wellness. The app’s conversational coaching tools, powered by an AI chatbot, allow users to express their experiences and feelings anonymously. The chatbot responds, offering encouragement and suggesting resources and tools to help navigate things that come up in the conversations. The app also offers the option to talk to a psychologist, but requires in-app subscription purchase. Those seeking more targeted coaching from a human expert have the option of subscribing and participating in one of the 30 to 90-day sessions. These personalized coach plans address topics such as break ups, productivity, body image, and social skills. Coaching sessions with a psychologist include daily messaging and one to two live sessions a week. The app doesn’t suggest this feature for people in crisis; however, it’s up to the user to determine how to seek help. Under the For You tab, users will also find tools to help organize thoughts, visualization exercises and daily stories, among other features. The I Want tab on the top left corner of the For You display lists a collection of options for teens to choose from, which streamlines the conversation with AI and narrows down the resources and tools offered to address feelings or challenges. In addition, teens can access a collection of tools that aim to address a range of wellness and mental health needs, such as sleep, productivity, confidence, stress, and anxiety. Although some tools are free to access, others require premium subscription. The app will guide users’ through yoga poses, meditation, physical exercises, guided gratitude exercises, and wellness and communication articles. The Journey tab allows users to track their experience and revisit past sessions, conversations, or preferred tools.
Is It Any Good?
Although teens will have access to a collection of fun, relaxing, and informative tools to promote wellness and may find it therapeutic to vent to the chatbot, there are some limitations. Users may find comfort in anonymity and confidentiality, and they may find themselves engrossed by the wide variety of wellness tools. Wysa: Mental Health Support goes beyond offering guided meditation or breathing exercises. It links users to health and wellness articles, guides them through gratitude exercises, and even has them doing chair squats. The app also explains the science behind the power of certain tools or habits, adding rationale for those seeking to answer, “why am I doing this?”
However, while the chatbot might be helpful under certain circumstances, it's obviously limited in helping users cope with serious issues, such as bullying, eating disorders, and abuse. It readily reacts to key words such as stress, sadness, and sleep with tool suggestions; however, upon discussing bullying at school and feeling unsafe, the chatbot responded that it wasn’t sure how to help. In situations like these the app directs teens to browse the toolkit themselves or email the Wysa team directly so it, “can learn to help you better.” Overall, Wysa: Be happy, sleep better is a cool app for those seeking to build better wellness habits and address light social-emotional challenges, but should be used with caution, especially if teens are working through more serious issues. Ultimately, it may help them build healthy physical and mental habits, but it isn’t appropriate for teens dealing with challenges that require professional intervention. Although the app is forthcoming about its limitations and directly tells users that it isn’t appropriate for those in crisis, the AI feature doesn’t necessarily pick up when crisis is being discussed in order to respond appropriately and direct teens to seek human intervention. So, it's definitely best when complimented with some guidance and check-ins with a trusted grownup or medical expert.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the types of challenges and stress that can be addressed using the tools offered by a digital app, such as Wysa: Mental Health Support, versus the types of challenges that require talking with a grownup and seeking professional help. Although chatting anonymously may be therapeutic and practicing mindfulness may help users build coping skills, the app has limitations and kids need to know when it’s time to seek support and medical care.
Talk about how to incorporate healthy habits, such as practicing mindfulness and reframing negative thoughts, into daily or weekly routines in order to build greater self-awareness and skills that promote wellness.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android
- Skills: Self-Direction: goal-setting, identifying strengths and weaknesses, personal growth, self-reflection, Emotional Development: developing resilience, handling stress, persevering, self-awareness, Health & Fitness: body awareness, meditation, mental health
- Pricing structure: Free to try ($9.99/mo. for tools; $29.99/mo. for coach and tools)
- Release date: June 25, 2019
- Category: Health & Fitness
- Publisher: Touchkin eServices Private Limited
- Version: 4.6.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up
- Last updated: August 12, 2021
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