AI Coach brings relief to 20k+ people during COVID

Website / Documentation
Short description

Built by clinical psychologists, Tess is a Mental Health Chatbot that provides relief during the COVID-19 crisis.


Built by clinical psychologists, Tess is a Mental Health Support Chatbot that provides COVID-19 relief support by delivering resources and emotional support coaching. Tess is trained to help people cope with anxiety, depression, loneliness, social isolation and other common concerns via text message conversations. To reach the millions of people in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tess virtually connects with people as a safe, on-demand, confidential, and stigma-free source of support. Tess is already providing relief across 6 continents to help:

– 13,000,000 people of all ages with anxiety, and especially older adults reduce social isolation and loneliness – for our research see:
– Tess has reached thousands of people living in remote areas, and engage people for as low as $0.50 per person – see
– Offer resources such as those approved by WHO and 24/7 thousands of on-call counselors via X2’s call-center partners.
– Medical professionals and volunteers cope with stress and anxiety from burnout – see
– Access to 5,000+ mental health counselors via tele-health

In addition to offering COVID-19 resources and emotional support, Tess can simply check-in by asking ”how are you today?” or “have you had your walk today?” to help keep people company. Tess has over 600 different ways of making someone feel better, which enable over 3,000,000 unique conversations. Over 50 coaches and psychologists have written the conversations on Tess. Conversations are personalized to each person’s needs to deliver a range of interventions from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to deeper levels of support like psychodynamic strategies. Whenever needed, an actual person can take over the conversation at any time.

20 research studies are completed or in progress, and over 13,000,000 people have access to Tess. The system is empirically proven to lower symptoms of depression by 13% and anxiety by 18% when compared to a control group. Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, in turn, relieves feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Tess encourages older adults to interact within their social networks through digital platforms, providing the skills and confidence for social reconnection. The patient-reported satisfaction rate of these chats is 88%, with this rate increasing to 95% after the second intervention. The NPS score on average is higher than 60.
With the overwhelming spread of COVID-19 worldwide, people are being encouraged to self-isolate and socially distance in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. While social isolation is a critical step in protecting people’s physical health, it has an immense negative impact on mental health and overall wellbeing, especially among the elderly and those in remote areas. For the aging population, declining emotional wellness has profound implications on personal, economic, and societal wellbeing. Social isolation has been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, increased prevalence of dementia, and increased likelihood of death. Healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic are suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety, as they work daily to test, treat, and care for patients. 25% of caregivers say it is very difficult to get emotional support that is both affordable and helpful [Family Caregiver Alliance, 2016]. With the current pandemic, it is even more difficult for people to find and access such support.

There is a greater need for Tess than ever before. Tess offers accessible, affordable, on-demand support to both healthcare workers and their patients, offering a scalable solution that accommodates the busy schedules of healthcare workers, helps to reduce burnout, and improves resilience. Through text messaging and/or a voice-enabled interface, Tess offers a safe space to engage in conversations about mental health concerns, provides updated COVID-19 resources, and guides people through interventions to promote wellbeing and reduce anxiety. When someone reports being in crisis or would like to speak with a human, Tess has the ability to immediately connect them with on-call counselors, available 24/7 through our call center partners.

Tess was used in a multi-site, randomized controlled trial conducted by Northwestern University (JMIR Mental Health; 2018), which revealed that interactions with Tess led to a significant reduction in symptoms of depression by 13%, and anxiety by 18% when compared to the control group. Further evidence for Tess’ capacity to keep people engaged was that the test group retained all participants with zero attrition. Tess is designed by mental health experts to relieve feelings of social isolation, which research has shown is strongly linked to anxiety and depression (Cacioppo et al., 2010). This was confirmed in a feasibility study conducted with AARP Foundation, which revealed that interactions with Tess for 4 weeks increases social connectedness in older adults by 55.7% as measured by the DSSI.

Saint Elizabeth Health Care in Canada conducted a study (Nursing Leadership; 2017) to assess the efficacy of Tess in supporting caregivers, of whom the majority are older than 50. Tess routinely asked “Did that help?” – 88% of the time participants strongly indicated it helped them. This was confirmed by survey findings: 70% found value in talking with Tess; 80% reported that Tess responded with relatable topics; 76% found Tess provided relevant support all or most of the time; and, 82% found Tess to be convenient all or most of the time. Over 12,000 messages per month were exchanged between Tess and the participants. In conjunction with CABHI, SE Health conducted a case study (PubMed; 2018) that showed how Tess was white-labeled to support 9000+ employees and 10,000+ patients with text-based and voice-enabled emotional support.

X2 is an active government vendor, for example for the Public Health Department of the County of Monterey. Delivery of X2’s services can also be performed under a re-seller contract in conjunction with a local health provider such as Baycrest, or healthcare oriented foundation such as the Centre for Aging Brain Health and Innovation (CABHI). Customers and partners of X2 range from private industry to the US National Institute of Health, so multiple procurement models are available.

Target country

United States

Project type

  • Mental health

Support needed

  • Marketing

What we need help with

Our organisation is set up in a way that our X2 Foundation can sponsor the costs of using the product. Which means that the only costs for people getting access is the Facebook Marketing costs. We’re able to reach people for about $0.50 - $1 per person. Bringing that cost down slightly, would tremendously increase the total number of people served. See Facebook has a COVID response program, and our X2 Foundation could donate free access to any user accessing that program. We are looking for Corporate Social Responsibility Funding that can be donated to our X2 Foundation (tax deductible) in order to support our marketing efforts so we can reach hundreds of thousands of people. American Family Insurance VC has already donated funding to give access to tens of thousands of people. Another major U.S. household brand has given access to over 30,000 seniors, during this crisis.

Best way to get in touch

Email or phone call to (248) 935-6366

Project status

  • Launched