In a move that shines a digital spotlight on mental health in the Middle East, Google has added emotional support in Arabic to help its virtual assistant reach people in the region. Virtual assistants from major technology companies, such as Google, Apple and Amazon, act as support systems for the daily activities of smartphone users. Given that these services, such as Siri and Alexa, aim to improve the quality of life, some of them now focus on improving general well-being by focusing on physical and mental health.
The year of the pandemic saw an unprecedented increase in the demand for remote medical consultations and apps that allow doctors to monitor progress among patients. Online expert advice on emotional and mental health issues is being provided via the Arabic version of Google Assistant in response to the well-being concerns fueled by the coronavirus pandemic . The internet giant has partnered with UAE-based mental health group Safe Space.
Najeeb Jarrar, head of consumer product marketing at Google MENA said, while the past year has been very difficult for many of us, I was relieved to see that people have proactively entered the Internet to look for ways to help themselves and their loved ones. I hope these responses bring reliable coping mechanisms and expert review closer to those who need them.Our work with Safe Space provides the millions of people who use the Google Arabic Assistant daily, expert-review responses about emotional well-being, that are simple and accessible.
Arabic speakers can now find informed suggestions on how best to deal with feelings of sadness, loneliness, fatigue, fear or anger, and in some cases, Google Assistant encourages people to seek more expert advice. The AI-powered service calms people's nerves when they feel lonely, anxious, sad or angry. Instead of acting as a consultant in the event someone encounters serious mental health problems, the Arabic-speaking Digital Companion encourages users to seek help from an expert.
Each response is carefully crafted based on the coping mechanisms created by the therapists at Safe Space, and answers are also reviewed from experts. Users can access emotional support through smart home devices, or they can get help on the go through their mobile phones. The assistant who understands all Arabic dialects and responses in Modern Standard Arabic also prepares to provide a service that can help people through meditation.