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How A.I. Can Revolutionize Mental Healthcare, with Thiago Marafon, CTO of Youper

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Mental health awareness has become more and more important in today’s world, which is great. However, there isn’t one right method of monitoring mental health. Different approaches work for different people. One exciting new approach is through the use of A.I. and apps to keep an eye on your mental health and moods. The technology is new, and still being iterated on, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

On this episode of IT Visionaries, we sit down with Thiago Marafon CTO of Youper, an emotional help assistance app that is aimed at helping you feel like the best version of yourself. Thiago and Ian dig deep into the importance of mental health, Thiago’s secret to success in the A.I. industry, and how technology can help people in new ways. 

Best advice for a first time CTO: “Entrepreneurship, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Even though you’re very excited and you have so many hats to wear, define a nice space. Research, study and have time to go out with your family, and things will work out.”

A Thought on Mental Health Today: “Today, the world’s population is suffering from mental health issues such as severe stress, anxiety, and depression, and 60% of them are not getting the treatment they need. There are many reasons for that, for example, stigma. People don’t like to talk about this or talk to someone about what they are feeling. There are other problems, including cost and the availability of doctors. I believe A.I. is a great solution that can scale this treatment by reducing stigma costs and improving availability.”

Key Takeaways:

  • How Thiago got into A.I. 
  • The ways Youper is improving lives
  • What does the future of A.I. look like?

Thiago’s History with A.I.

Thiago spent his childhood in Brazil learning technology. Where he came from, very few people had computers in their homes, so he considered himself lucky to even have access. At the age of 12, he developed his first website using HTML and javascript. Thiago’s first job was with one of the largest companies in Brazil, where he was exposed to many new and exciting technologies, including A.I. Eventually, Thiago founded his own company that built chatbots. His work there caught the attention of the CEO of a new company in the works called Youper, and Thiago joined the founding team. 

What is Youper? 

Youper is a mobile app that is designed to help improve emotional health. Within this health care app, you can chat about any situation that’s causing you problems or impacting your mood.  The app will guide you in a conversation that will help you understand your mood, reflect on your thoughts, and try to help you improve your emotional state. After just one conversation with Youper, 83% of its users reported a reduction in negative moods. Currently, the company is working on ways to personalize the A.I. algorithm in order to create an even more unique experience for users who are pursuing happiness. 

“So far, Youper has more than a million users, and we’ve been developing this product based on our understanding of the users. We don’t believe that there is a one size fits all solution for mental health, and that’s where A.I. comes into play. We can personalize the psychological techniques that we are delivering to our users. Based on this understanding, I truly believe that we are on the right path.”

“We are always working to improve Youper’s A.I. Our vision is to build a system that’s able to understand people’s feelings and provide the right support to make them feel better. In other words, we are building technology that can empower people to pursue happiness.”

The Future of A.I. 

Artificial intelligence has already come a long way. A decade ago, A.I. was something we mostly only saw in the movies. Today, many of us use some form of A.I. on a daily basis. This is an exciting time for the technology, but there is still apprehension about where A.I. will be implemented in the future. There is a fear that A.I. will come and take jobs or do harm to our lives, but Thiago prefers to think that A.I. will actually have a positive impact. 

“A.I. is something that is moving so fast and there is a lot of talk about good A.I. and the bad A.I. And I think it’s very important to split those two things. They are totally different. I don’t believe in this general artificial intelligence that will come and kill us all. I believe that the good A.I. will be the next big thing. And I’m pretty confident that A.I. will make our lives way better. We will be much more efficient. We will do more things in less time and have more time to spend with people we care about.”

Marketing Youper

To build a successful start-up company, you must find a way to spread the word about your product. Thiago and his team at Youper never invested in traditional PR, they do not use a referral program, and they keep the app free in the U.S. They prefer to let users decide how they want to share their success stories, and they simply let the product speak for itself. 

“Word of mouth is part of our strategy to engage people and to share their improvements. People care about their friends, so if they are feeling better, they will suggest and recommend Youper.” “

Episode 108