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The dangers of misinformation using AI Chatbots for eating disorder help

ai chatbots misinformation eating disorder
Home » Understanding Eating Disorders » The dangers of misinformation using AI Chatbots for eating disorder help

What is AI?

Basically, AI is when computers are able to do something similar to the human brain, such as understanding, synthesising and producing information.

Many professions, including the mental health field, are greeting new AI technology like ChatGPT with excitement and fear, celebrating the possibilities whilst predicting the disadvantages they may present. For eating disorder experts, where everything from chatbot misdiagnoses to AI-generated body images can have devasting consequences for their patients, this makes the concerns high.

Misinformation from AI Chatbots

Disadvantages of ChatGPT and chat boxes?

ChatGPT was never designed to be a therapist or to provide mental health support. It could provide information about mental health, but it cannot provide treatment recommendations, advice or most importantly an accurate diagnosis. 

ChatGPT for all of its knowledge could also mislead people with dieting or weight advice, which may cause disordered eating, especially if someone is in recovery from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very complex mental illnesses that can take many years to recover from, I know myself having suffered from many years with anorexia and over exercising. My road to recovery had many ups and downs, and the most important part of my recovery was receiving good quality treatment from qualified professionals in the field who supported me throughout my journey. 

Disordered Eating Misinformation leads to serious problems

Are chat boxes triggering for people with eating disorders?

ChatGPT could also be very triggering for people suffering with eating disorders as you simply ask it a question on dieting or weight loss advice e.g. “Can you create a food plan for me where the calories are under 1000 calories”? and it simply will! This has the potential to be very dangerous, and this could feed into someone’s obsessive side of calorie counting and restrictive dieting, which is detrimental for those suffering with eating disorders and disordered eating.

“Recovery from an eating disorder is hard enough without having external factors affecting our recovery such as triggering content on social media, and access to mis information through AI technology“. 

Will AI technology be a replacement for therapy? 

Eating disorder specialists such as myself have gone through extensive training to help and provide support to those suffering with eating disorders, and eating disorder specialists are far and few! Many people can’t afford private treatment due to the expenses, and there is also a huge waiting list on the NHS for young people and adults. Most people are also being turned away as they are seen as not being “sick enough” for treatment, which is certainly not the case! I hope to change this and make a difference in the future.

How to get help from a qualified human

Every person is unique when it comes to treating their eating disorder, and every therapist must adapt in order to help guide their client towards change. At Jenup, we are here to help and so use the contact link in this post to get access to the proper qualified help that you need.

Successfully treating eating disorders usually involves a variety of treatment methods. This can include a combination of therapy, medication, and nutritional thearpy. I do not see chatbots as a replacement tool for therapy or treatment due to the complexities that come with eating disorders. However, they could have the potential to be a cheap and accessible prevention tool or screening tool.

Jenny Tomei – Jenup

Final Thoughts

We need to establish a healthy balanced with relationship with social media and any new technology and assess which areas it will benefit and ones where it will not. We cannot over-rely on chatbots and AI for therapy and especially not for treatment at this moment in time. There is so much misinformation out there online, which we must somehow navigate and combat, and learn how to use any new technology in a sensible and strategic way that’s going to benefit others and not cause harm. 

Contact Jenny Tomei

Contact Jenny for help