NEDA’s Eating Disorder Helpline Specialist Tessa Departed

Have you ever used an AI chatbot for mental health support? You might want to read this. Recently, the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) shut down their AI chatbot, Tessa, after it was accused of giving harmful advice and suggestions. But this wasn’t the only reason behind the backlash towards NEDA; it was also due to the mass burnout of hotline personnel during the pandemic era, causing them to unionize. Read on for more insight into the world of AI chatbots and why some people are questioning their use in sensitive mental health situations.

What went wrong with Tessa?

According to NEDA, Tessa’s Body Positivity program “may have given” harmful advice to certain individuals. After receiving accusations from activist Sharon Maxwell, NEDA took down the program and launched an investigation into the matter. Maxwell claimed that if she had accessed Tessa during the early stages of her eating disorder, she “would NOT have gotten help” and might not be alive today. This raises serious concerns about the safety and reliability of using AI chatbots for mental health support.

NEDA’s other issues

The backlash towards NEDA wasn’t just about Tessa. During the pandemic, hotline personnel were overwhelmed with calls and began to unionize, leading to staff burnout. NEDA’s response to this was to launch Tessa, which drew criticism from former employees who viewed it as an anti-union move. NEDA officials denied this, claiming that the decision was unrelated to the unionization, but rather due to legal responsibilities and increased call volume.

AI chatbots in mental health

The use of AI chatbots in mental health support is a controversial topic. While some view it as a way to increase access to care, others are concerned about the lack of human interaction and the potential for harmful advice. Tessa’s case highlights the dangers of relying solely on AI chatbots for mental health support, especially when dealing with delicate issues like eating disorders.

The future of AI chatbots

Despite the controversies, the use of AI chatbots in mental health support continues to grow. Developers claim that the technology is constantly improving and becoming more sophisticated. However, as with any new technology, it is essential to weigh the benefits against the potential risks and consequences.

In conclusion, the shutdown of Tessa raises serious questions about the use of AI chatbots in mental health support. While the technology may have its benefits, it also has its flaws and dangers, as seen in Tessa’s case. As we move towards a more digital society, it is crucial to approach the use of AI chatbots in mental health support with caution and careful consideration.

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