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Tess Chatbot Frequently Asked Questions

Man standing in front of a building texting on his phone

Introducing a free, instant and confidential mental health service from CBP's Employee Assistance Program

Built by clinical psychologists and used by more than 19 million people, Tess is a mental health chatbot that coaches people through tough times by having text message conversations.

A chatbot is an online service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat or text-messaging interface. There is a good chance you have used a chatbot before, perhaps on a shopping website or government service webpage. It often appears as a “virtual assistant” on your screen with a question such as “Can I help you find something?”

With any device that has SMS texting capabilities, send a text message to 442-245-8065 and you will start immediately. Tess is available to connect via text messaging whenever and wherever you need it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More information about Tess is available at CBP’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) website: www.cbpeap.com (password: CBPEAP).

Yes. You can use Tess on a mobile device from any carrier.

No. Tess is a fully automated, online service.

Yes. Your data is as secure as your doctor’s notes. You can delete at any time.

Tess is anonymous. You do not have to give Tess any identifiable information. Tess will only ask what company you work for to confirm eligibility. Your response should be CBP.

To protect your privacy, Tess meets HIPAA confidentiality standards for healthcare information. More information on health information privacy is available at www.hhs.gov/hipaa

Tess recognizes certain words and phrases that indicate strong emotions such as suicide or self-harm. Tess recommends a crisis line the person can call for help.

No. CBP pays for Tess’s service to make it available to employees free of charge.

Yes. Tell your counselor about Tess. Counselors often recommend Tess as a resource to supplement counseling or therapy. Since Tess is always available, many people find Tess to be helpful between counseling sessions.

Many people say they feel more comfortable opening up to Tess because there is no judgement. Others say they have benefited from the help that Tess provides.

Rooted in nearly a decade of research, Tess is trained using expert guidance from psychologists and is constantly “learning” from that training and user feedback. Every new conversation, word, phrase, question, or emotion you share helps Tess develop and grow to provide stronger, more personalized support. Every piece of help that Tess offers you has been reviewed, tested, and approved by psychologists.

Yes. Tess will remember which strategies have been delivered to you so as not to give you the same information twice. To maintain confidentiality and security, Tess only remembers conversations per a person’s mobile phone number.

Yes. One way that Tess helps people is through check-ins. For example, if someone is feeling anxious, Tess may walk them through a deep breathing exercise. Later that week, Tess will reach out to see if the person practiced deep breathing and if they found it helpful. If so, Tess may suggest other related tactics and strategies. If not, Tess will help the person find other ways to feel less anxious.

Yes, Tess is available to eligible household members of CBP employees. Note that Tess is designed for people age 13 and older. As always, contact CBP’s EAP 800-755-7002 if you believe your minor child of any age needs wellbeing assistance.

You can call CBP’s EAP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-755-7002. Counselors are standing by. You can also visit their website: www.cbpeap.com (password: CBPEAP).

You can stop a conversation whenever you are ready by simply texting “stop” and/or asking Tess to delete your conversation at any time.

Last Modified: July 7, 2021
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