A Shoulder to Cry on: Towards A Motivational Virtual Assistant for Assuaging Mental Agony

Tulika Saha, Saichethan Reddy, Anindya Das, Sriparna Saha, Pushpak Bhattacharyya


Abstract
Mental Health Disorders continue plaguing humans worldwide. Aggravating this situation is the severe shortage of qualified and competent mental health professionals (MHPs), which underlines the need for developing Virtual Assistants (VAs) that can assist MHPs. The data+ML for automation can come from platforms that allow visiting and posting messages in peer-to-peer anonymous manner for sharing their experiences (frequently stigmatized) and seeking support. In this paper, we propose a VA that can act as the first point of contact and comfort for mental health patients. We curate a dataset, Motivational VA: MotiVAte comprising of 7k dyadic conversations collected from a peer-to-peer support platform. The system employs two mechanisms: (i) Mental Illness Classification: an attention based BERT classifier that outputs the mental disorder category out of the 4 categories, viz., Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), based on the input ongoing dialog between the support seeker and the VA; and (ii) Mental Illness Conditioned Motivational Dialogue Generation (MI-MDG): a sentiment driven Reinforcement Learning (RL) based motivational response generator. The empirical evaluation demonstrates the system capability by way of outperforming several baselines.
Anthology ID:
2022.naacl-main.174
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies
Month:
July
Year:
2022
Address:
Seattle, United States
Venue:
NAACL
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
2436–2449
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.naacl-main.174
DOI:
10.18653/v1/2022.naacl-main.174
Bibkey:
Cite (ACL):
Tulika Saha, Saichethan Reddy, Anindya Das, Sriparna Saha, and Pushpak Bhattacharyya. 2022. A Shoulder to Cry on: Towards A Motivational Virtual Assistant for Assuaging Mental Agony. In Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, pages 2436–2449, Seattle, United States. Association for Computational Linguistics.
Cite (Informal):
A Shoulder to Cry on: Towards A Motivational Virtual Assistant for Assuaging Mental Agony (Saha et al., NAACL 2022)
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.naacl-main.174.pdf