A Scottish charity is using AI technology to help men talk freely about their mental health.
Brothers in Arms is encouraging people to share its free ‘Blethr’ technology with their male networks as part of a suicide prevention campaign.
Described as an AI conversationer or a ‘listening bot’, the innovative technology, developed in Scotland, takes a unique approach to digital interaction.
Instead of drawing from a predetermined set of responses, the tool which can be accessed online seeks to understand and assist through thoughtful questioning, and provides a non-judgmental space where men can talk and share.
The technology is being promoted as part of a landmark suicide prevention campaign, #TimeToBlether.
To launch the campaign, 12 men from across Scotland with personal experiences of suicide have joined forces to represent the 12 men that take their own life every day in the UK.
Former shipyard worker Jimmy Cloughley, 85, of Broomhill, Glasgow, lost his son to suicide, while well-being PT Chris Stone of Edinburgh has struggled throughout his life with suicidal thoughts.
One of the 12 men, Paul Crawford from Glasgow, has lost two friends to suicide and more recently, his nephew in 2022.
He said: “Suicide is preventable, not inevitable. It is so important that if men are struggling with their feelings that they talk about it.
Suicide is preventable, not inevitable. It is so important that if men are struggling with their feelings that they talk about it.
“It’s not a sign of weakness, but it is in fact a sign of strength.
“The most important step men can take is to reach out for advice, whether that’s to a friend, a family member, GP or a mental health professional.
“Our mental health is as important as our physical health – when feel physical discomfort, we don’t hesitate to try and solve the matter, and it’s just as important to look after your mental health in the same way.
“Talking about your mental health is the first step to feeling better.”
Brothers in Arms Founder, Dan Proverbs, expressed optimism about the campaign's potential impact.
“Male suicide rates represent a public health crisis. Through our digital support and unique Blethr technology, our goal is to create a cultural shift where men feel comfortable discussing their feelings and seeking help before they reach crisis point.”
Brothers in Arms aim to raise £120,000 throughout 2024.
The funds will be utilised to expand outreach efforts, engage more individuals, and to help develop the capabilities of Blethr, as they continue to support the mental health needs of men across Scotland and beyond.
- Find out more about the campaign and how to support Brothers in Arms, and access Blethr, via: www.brothersinarmsscotland.co.uk