Skip to main content

Impact of the war in Ukraine on UEF

close up on man using smartphone

University students and staff are invited to test whether a chatbot can promote well-being and mental health

The Department of Nursing Science at the University of Eastern Finland is studying the the use of chatbots in the promotion of mental well-being. The university's students and staff are now invited to test a chatbot that is based on positive psychology. The chatbot has been developed in the international ChatPal project.

Chatbots are digital communication applications, such as Google Alexa or Facebook Messenger. Developed by researchers, the ChatPal chatbot is designed to promote mental health and well-being. It is based on the PERMA H model of positive psychology, which consists of six elements that support happy life. These include positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievements and health. For its users, ChatPal provides information on mental well-being, as well as exercises to support it.

The chatbot makes use of artificial intelligence, and it has been developed to support mental well-being especially in sparsely populated areas. It has been developed in collaboration between healthcare professionals, technical experts, psychologists and residents of sparsely populated areas in northern Europe.  In addition to the University of Eastern Finland, the project involves Ulster University in Northern Ireland as the main implementer, the municipalities of Norbotten County and Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, the National Health Service of the Western Isles of Scotland (NHS), Action Mental Health in Northern Ireland, Health Innovation Hub Ireland, and Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland. The project is funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.

Participants will test ChatPal for 12 weeks

“The pandemic and the changes caused by it have also put a burden on university students and staff. The fact that almost everything is happening remotely, the lack of social contacts, and the adoption of a new way of working, are taking a toll on well-being. When the situation gets prolonged, it may also affect mental health. The risk of burnout, depression and anxiety is real. If one notices these kinds of symptoms in oneself, it is good to react swiftly and to start using easily available methods to promote well-being and mental health,” says University Lecturer Lauri Kuosmanen from the Department of Nursing Science. He leads the ChatPal project at the University of Eastern Finland.

Students and staff of the University of Eastern Finland are now invited to take part in the ChatPal study. In the study, users download the ChatPal app and use it a few times a week over a 12-week period. Participants are also asked to fill out a survey at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the study. The survey will be conducted anonymously, and personal data will be processed in such a way that participants cannot be identified. The survey questions concern positive mental health, life satisfaction, and opinions on the app and its use.

You can participate in the study if:

  • you are at least 18 years old
  • you live in a sparsely populated area (in Finland, these are North Savo, South Savo, North Karelia, Central Finland, Central Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and Lapland)
  • you have not been diagnosed with a mental health disorder at any point in your life
  • you have not had suicidal thoughts or behaviour in the past year.

If you wish to participate in the study, please send an email to Project Coordinator Anna-Kaisa Vartiainen (anna-kaisa.vartiainen@uef.fi) or University Teacher Heidi Nieminen (heidi.nieminen@uef.fi) to get the information needed to start in the study.

ChatPal study info (PDF, in Finnish)

For further information, please contact:

Lauri Kuosmanen, Director responsible for the project, lauri.kuosmanen@uef.fi, tel. +358 50 516 7055
University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science

https://uefconnect.uef.fi/en/group/chatpal-conversational-interfaces-supporting-mental-health-and-wellbeing-of-people-in-sparsely-populated-areas/