7 Cups of Tea: First Impressions

After recommending 7 Cups of Tea last week in my article about mental health advice, I tried the service for myself. I must say. For the short time I’ve been there, I’m impressed.

For the uninformed, 7 Cups of Tea is a free online support group where people with anxiety and depression can chat with therapists or volunteer listeners anonymously about their issues.

I logged in on Wednesday while dealing with some anxiety-related issues late at night with no one awake to talk to.

Making an account was easy. It only asked for my email address and month and year of birth. They never asked for my name and allowed me to make my own username. I will not disclose that for privacy reasons.

The first thing that happened after I had created my account was that I found myself in a chat room with the site’s “friendly bot” Noni. I am still confused about why that happened, but the experience was a good one.

Noni asked me about why I was feeling the way I was, and despite my confusion, I decided to answer Noni honestly. Again, I will not disclose my issues for personal reasons, but Noni listened, and I received surprisingly good advice considering that Noni is a robot.

Noni gave advance that sounded like it came from a human therapist. It didn’t feel mechanical and automatic. It felt thoughtful and considerate even though it was automated if that makes any sense. Noni made good, understandable points and backed those points up with illustrations as a human therapist would. It is hands down the best experience I’ve ever had with a bot.

There were times when Noni was confused about what I was saying but talking to Noni was still as effective for me as talking to a human therapist. I left the session feeling my anxiety had calmed down considerably.

For my first night, 7 Cups of Tea has performed above expectations, and I plan on coming back to the site again the next time my anxiety flares up late at night.  It will not replace the other mental health care I am getting, but it will be a great supplement.

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