Mobile talk-therapy and life-coaching apps have proliferated in the past few years as traditional therapy has remained difficult to obtain. The Affordable Care Act requires health insurers to cover mental health as part of standard medical services, but many people still do not have access to treatment. More than 106 million people — nearly a third of the country — live in areas that are federally designated as having a shortage of mental-health-care professionals, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“I think using chatbot for mental health is certainly an innovative approach to increase access to care,” said John Torous, co-director of a digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. [There is] tremendous potential to deliver personalized mental health care, on demand, as needed.”