This proposal will develop a “chatbot” application that provides meaningful support to mothers struggling with or at risk of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Research on text-based conversational agents, known as “chatbots,” indicates their potential as an innovative, low-cost, low-barrier intervention. However, no chatbot platforms currently exist to target mothers in the postpartum period, specifically.

To ensure the chatbot will provide meaningful support and engagement for caregivers at risk, this team will engage in user testing and co-design techniques, including working with the nonprofit Postpartum Support International to develop a useful application.

Left untreated, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can have major negative effects on maternal and child health and well-being. Nearly 60% of mothers with symptoms are undiagnosed and 50% are left untreated, with poor women and women of color being disproportionately impacted. Cost, time, stigma, and lack of childcare and information are major barriers to treatment. As such, simple, cost-effective, and efficacious approaches to providing support are urgently needed.


Project team: Kaya de Barbaro (Department of Psychology), Eunsol Choi (Department of Computer Science), S. Craig Watkins (School of Journalism), James Pennebaker (Department of Psychology), Xuewen Yao (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Megan Micheletti (Department of Psychology), Wendy N. David (Postpartum Support International), Daniel Singley (Postpartum Support International), Lianne Swanson (Postpartum Support International) and Kat Schuknecht (Postpartum Support International)