by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.
Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness
AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW) refers to the broad interface of the thinking or cognitive abilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and our feelings—human emotions. AIEW emphasizes that while artificial intelligence will never replace the genuine, in-person human experience, it focuses on how AI can foster emotional well-being. This National Center post addresses three important areas where AIEW has tremendous potential.
The National Center defines emotional wellness as an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of our feelings and the ability to navigate challenges and change. Emotional wellness is essential for overall well-being and quality of life. However, many need help with emotional wellness in our rapidly evolving technological world. This is where AIEW can provide support and foster emotional well-being.
be utilized to detect signs of emotional distress to prevent mental health problems. AI algorithms can identify early indicators of emotional challenges by analyzing individual language and behavior patterns. This allows for timely alerts not only for individuals themselves but also for healthcare professionals (Pluta et al., 2019). Such a proactive approach facilitates early intervention that could prevent problems.
improve emotional well-being by offering virtual companionship. AI companions can foster positive emotions and wellness by providing emotional support, engaging conversations, and tailored advice based on an individual's specific emotional needs (Dose et al., 2021). By helping people feel acknowledged and less isolated, these companions can provide empathy—a communicated appreciation of another person's feelings. Virtual companions can utilize data from social media, journals, and biometrics to assess a person's feelings and deliver personalized guidance, helping users navigate their emotions and enhance their emotional wellness (Wang et al., 2020).
be beneficial by supporting mental health interventions, such as counseling, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy. For example, AI-powered chatbots can offer automated, evidence-based support for people experiencing emotional distress (Wendel & Marwan, 2021). These chatbots can provide support at any time. They actively listen, guide people through exercises, and offer coping tools and strategies, all contributing towards fostering emotional wellness.
While AIEW can potentially enhance emotional well-being, it's essential to address the ethical considerations associated with its implementation. It's critical to ensure that AI systems are designed with ethics in mind and to enhance human capabilities rather than replace human interaction (Batrinca & David, 2020). Furthermore, it's also crucial to address data privacy and security concerns to maintain trust and safeguard individuals' sensitive emotional information.
AI holds great potential for improving emotional well-being in various ways. In this post, I described 1) how AIEW could help in the early detection of potential emotional problems, 2) how AIEW could improve emotional wellness with virtual companions, and 3) how AIEW could support mental health interventions. However, it's essential to consider ethical aspects and address privacy concerns to ensure responsible utilization of AI. By embracing the advantages offered by AIEW while still understanding and valuing genuine in-person human interaction, we can harness technology to empower people on their journeys toward emotional wellness.